If told by a dentist that their child needs a nerve treatment (A.K.A. a root canal for kids), most parents wouldn’t hesitate to ask why, and with good reason. If your child will lose their tooth eventually anyway, what is the point of conducting such an invasive surgery?
To begin, a root canal is a procedure conducted to prevent a bacterial infection or dangerous inflammation by removing the inside of the tooth, which we will call “pulp.” All teeth, including primary teeth, have an exterior protective coating laid on the outside, called enamel. Deep decay, cavities or trauma to the tooth are the most common reason for the pulp to become damaged. This can prove a real problem even for the smallest of teeth. Saving a baby tooth may even prove to be more important than saving an adult tooth. While adult teeth can survive without the pulp of a tooth, the untimely loss of a baby tooth can heavily interfere with speaking, chewing and the alignment of newly developing permanent teeth.
Pediatric dentists qualified to perform root canal surgery will observe pain in the patient and proceed to recommend this type of surgery. Prior to this procedure, the dentist will lay down a rubber “dam” to prevent contamination to any other tooth, Afterwards, using very small tools, and the incision is made into the infected tooth to remove any diseased pulp. The very last step is to close the site and making sure everything is kept sterile and disinfected.
The best thing to prevent this kind of surgery in small mouths, however, is preventative care. Teaching children to keep their teeth healthy and protected is important to keep their developing mouths safe and free of infection, and ultimately, safe from pain. Have no fear though; child root canals are not the end of the world! In the end, as opposed to common wives’ tales, root canals are given to reduce pain, not to inflict it!