Is Endodontics Right for Your Child…Do Root Canals & Kids Mix?

When a child feels pain in a tooth at random for no reason, has hot or cold sensitivity or breaks their tooth and exposes what we call the pulp, he or she may need endodontic treatment. Endontic treatment consists of several types of procedures. They are classified in two groups: vital pulp therapy (where the tooth can be saved) and non vital pulp therapy ie. a root canal (where the tooth is essentially considered “dead”).

Endodontics are necessary when the pulp and nerve of the tooth are affected by decay or some sort of damage. The pulp of your tooth not only houses the nerve, it also contains blood vessels that supply your tooth with nutrients and oxygen it needs to stay healthy. Endodontic treatment is performed essentially to save the tooth.

Endodontic treatment can be done on both baby and permanent teeth.

It can be performed by any trained dentist general or specialist but be discriminating. Parents often think that because baby teeth fall out eventually that it’s not important to perform these types of procedures on them.

Contrary to that popular belief, baby teeth have several crucial functions. They hold spaces for permanent teeth and are also very important for chewing and speaking.

Because there are several types of pulp therapies (described above), you should consult your dentist to ensure this type of treatment is right for your child. The other option you have is to get your child’s tooth extracted. There are several things to consider when you are weighing these two options: which tooth is affect, approximately how long until it falls out on its own, how damaged it is and whether or not gum or bone have been affected.

Another factor to consider is whether or not your child has any serious medical conditions. In these cases, infection can be more serious. If the tooth is infected there is the possibility that the surrounding bone and gum tissue could also develop an infection after endodontic therapy.

Finally, we want to assure you that some soreness is normal after endodontic therapy and should be manageable with over the counter pain relievers that are safe for children.

About the Author

I am a family dentist who treats children as well as adults. Making smiles people love, extreme makeovers and complex dental reconstruction is our niche including implants, TMJ, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. As a participant in the blog, I will be offering dental perspectives on pediatric safety and health care options on a regular basis. I can be reached at Blessings to all! Dr Williams is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


11 Responses to “Is Endodontics Right for Your Child…Do Root Canals & Kids Mix?”

  1. Navydent says:

    nice informative post…thanx.

  2. Lorie Decena says:

    thank you Dr Williams. God bless!

  3. Important factors to consider are the child teeth’s diagnosis, overall teeth conditions and child’s general and oral health. However, the choice between root canal and extraction will be based on the value of the tooth for future occlusive development and the child’s ability to cooperate with the treatment. For example, if there is any risk of injury or infection of the underlying permanent tooth, extraction should be preferred. Consequently, root canal is relevant for cases with infected or decayed primary teeth before the time of eruption of the permanents.

  4. Tanya says:

    I would like to know the risks of having pulpotimies and extractions under sedation within the Doctors rooms? My son is 3 yrs old and needs lots of work on his teeth but my medical insurance does not cover him and its cheaper to do the procedure in the dentist rooms than in a clinic.

  5. Johnny Shi says:

    I didn’t realize the importance of baby teeth. Like you mentioned they, “hold spaces for permanent teeth and are also very important for chewing and speaking”. This is something I didn’t realize and it changes my opinion on root canal procedures for children.

  6. bryan flake says:

    As a young parent, I would never have thought that there could be so much tooth restoration help for children’s teeth, like there is for adults. When I was young, we typically heard, “oh the baby tooth will fall out eventually.” I just love our technology and culture change our education about things in life like healthcare.

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      I heard the same thing growing up! Funny (and great) how much things have changed and how much healthcare has advanced. Thanks Bryan for stopping by 🙂

  7. An excellent article! I did not know that children could also perform root canal treatment, being a complex and often painful treatment. It is always good to take care of the dentition of children that do not result in future problems.

    • Glad you liked the article. We always try to provide new and informative perspectives. And we agree that taking care of kids’ teeth is really important. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  8. Root canal procedures aren’t just for adult patients. Even if your child’s primary teeth are still in, a root canal may still be necessary for some instances. Among the more obvious signs that your child needs to be seen by a dentist immediately are:

    Constant unexplained pain
    Sensitivity to food temperatures (hot and cold)
    Swelling and redness around the affected tooth
    Unexpected looseness or mobility of the affected tooth

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