While children may not know what the words “root canal” mean, parents certainly do. And for many, they fear the procedure. However, root canals don’t have to be something that your child should fear — or you either. Dr. Allie Miller of Pediatric Dentistry of Winter Park, a dentist in Winter Park, FL, discusses the process of a pediatric root canal.
What is a Root Canal?
Technically, a root canal is actually a part of your tooth. It’s the hollow portion inside that contains the dental pulp and nerves. However, when most people discuss a root canal, they mean a root canal procedure. Root canals are performed when the pulp inside that tooth becomes infected. The infection has to be removed, or you’re at risk of losing the tooth.
How Do I Know if My Child Needs a Root Canal?
Sometimes, symptoms may not even be experienced with this infection. It may not even be discovered until a routine dental cleaning and exam. Usually, though, pain is the main symptom. Be listening if your child ever describes a bad toothache, especially when they’re trying to chew or bite food. They may also experience prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks.
There are some things you may be able to notice by examining the tooth, too. Look for gums around a tooth being swollen or inflamed. The actual tooth may be discolored as well. This is due to the infection inside. Usually, an infected tooth will appear darker than normal.
The Pediatric Root Canal Process
Pediatric root canals are the same as the adult process. Dr. Miller will first have to see how much damage exists to see which type of root canal to perform. Ideally, a pulpotomy will be performed. This is when there’s still pulp that isn’t infected and the infection is only at the crown of the tooth. Otherwise, a pulpectomy will need to be performed to get rid of most or all of the dental pulp.
A local anesthetic is used to numb the entire area. If your child suffers from dental anxiety, we offer sedation dentistry options to help keep them calm. When there’s just exposed pulp on the crown of the tooth, that will be removed and the healthy pulp sealed under biocompatible material. This material also helps speed up healing inside the tooth.
When most of the pulp is infected, a hole is drilled in the back of the tooth. Special instruments are used to scrape out all of the infected material. The hollow area is filled with a biocompatible material. If it’s a primary tooth, materials that can be absorbed by the body need to be used. If it’s a permanent tooth, we’ll discuss using a dental crown to stabilize the tooth and seal out further infection.
The pain that’s associated with root canals is actually the pain of the infection. Many patients say that it feels like nothing more than a dental filling. Pain can actually be relieved after a root canal because the infection is no longer causing pain and pressure.
Pediatric Root Canals at Your Winter Park, Florida Dentist
Do you think your child may need a root canal? Call us or schedule an appointment online.