When a cavity gets too large, it can begin to eat all the way through a tooth and approach the nerve of a baby tooth. If this happens, the tooth and gums may become infected and inflamed. Situations like this can call for a baby root canal.
What is a Baby Root Canal?
A baby root canal or pulpotomy is when a pediatric dentist removes a cavity and the infected portion of pulp, nerve and blood vessels that are diseased or causing pain. When it comes to baby root canals, or pulpotomies, there are 2 versions that can take place.
1. Partial Pulpotomy
A partial pulpotomy is when the infected parts of the tooth and pulp are removed. The pediatric dentist will drill into the tooth to remove all diseased areas and also removed any affected portions of the nerve. Once complete and everything is removed, medication will be placed onto the recently diseased area to prevent further decay or infection. Once complete, a crown will be placed on top of the treated tooth in order to help protect the tooth and stabilize the tooth for permanent teeth that will grow in the future. When placing the crown, often a tooth will be shaved down in order to help fit the shape of the crown to optimize placement for a perfect smile.
2. Complete Pulpotomy (Pulpectomy)
A complete pulpotomy is when the nerve and pulp of the teeth is so infected that everything must be removed. As opposed to a partial where a portion of tooth can be salvaged, a complete pulpotomy will require the whole tooth and its roots to be treated. Once everything is removed in the tooth, the inside of the tooth are filled with a dental cement that will help the tooth maintain its position and then will be stabilized with a crown. Like we mentioned above, this is important for lessening or negating the need for orthodontic treatment in the future.
It is important to note that as opposed to adult root canals, baby root canals are different. For children, the tooth’s shape and position is salvaged as opposed to completely extracted and taken out.
The Baby Root Canal Procedure
The procedure for a baby root canal can be split up into three parts:
Excavation: Similar to a filling, your pediatric dentist will first drill and remove any areas of the teeth that are decayed or infected by the cavity. Because the cavity is large and accessing the pulpal chamber, the children’s dentist will excavate once they have reached the infected pulp. Once done so, they will use a high speed burr/drill and or a spoon excavator to remove the nerve and pulp that are infected.
Sterilization: Once all infected areas have been removed, the pediatric dentist will coat the recently excavated area with a special medication and sterilizer that will help keep the area infection free.
Crowning: After the area has been sterilized, the pediatric dentist will then want to place a crown on top of the tooth in order to help keep the tooth protected, while also supporting the rest of the teeth in structure and placement. In order to place the crown, the tooth will be shaved down and then the crown will be fitted that will match the structure of the rest of the smile.
What is the difference between a Baby Root Canal and an Extraction?
Baby root canals attempt to salvage as much of a tooth as possible. So after removing any diseased or infected area, the tooth’s structure is usually kept, while supported by a crown, in order to maintain the shape of the tooth in the smile.
It is common thought that baby teeth will eventually fall out anyways, however in this case it does not mean a tooth should automatically be extracted. It is better to conduct the baby root canal and to maintain the structure of the tooth. By doing this, it allows for other teeth in the mouth to grow and develop into the right places when permanent tooth also come in. By ensuring that the original tooth can be kept in its position, it will help the child retain full function of their smile, teeth, jaw and tongue.
Signs that a Baby Root Canal may be Needed
Parents should avoid trying to diagnose their children. Proper diagnosis requires a specially trained eye and tools from a trained dentist for kids. However, there are some signs that can point to a possible need for a baby root canal. These include:
- A child complaining of toothaches or tooth pain
- Redness and swelling of the gum around the tooth
- Sensitivity when eating
Baby Root Canals Are Quick and Easy!
Unlike adult root canals, baby root canals are actually a pretty quick procedure. Baby root canals only take a few minutes and can be finished in one single visit. Therefore, no additional visits are needed.