What Should I Expect from a Pediatric Endodontist?

If you have received a recommendation from your child’s dentist to visit a root canal specialist, or endodontist, you might be wondering why. After all, receiving a root canal is a way to save a tooth from inflammation or bacterial infection by removing the pulp located in the center of the tooth. Since your child’s baby teeth will eventually fall out on their own as they mature, you might be wondering why you should try and save a tooth that is at risk of being lost early.

To us, saving a baby tooth is just as important as saving an adult tooth. If a child loses their baby teeth too early, it can interfere with their speech development, chewing and, most importantly, the alignment of the new adult teeth. Each baby tooth holds a space for the next permanent tooth that will eventually emerge from behind it, but not all teeth fall out at the same time. Unfortunately, if there is a gap after a tooth falls out, the rest of the teeth will shift so they fill the position. This will ultimately affect the alignment of permanent teeth.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

More often than not, a trained endodontist will perform root canal treatments on children. Before making the appointment with the endodontist, however, a dentist will review your child’s complete medical history for signs of systemic – or general – disease, as it could require special treatment. The dentist will take this opportunity to assess how much pain is being caused by the infection, inflammation or decay. If the pain happens in response to stimuli, such as hot or cold temperatures, sweet or acidic drinks, or the impact with another tooth, you can be looking at a number of causes – not all of them require a root canal. However, spontaneous, throbbing, constant pain is usually an indicator of pulp damage.

Be aware that the infection that is causing the pain can travel through the root tip into the jawbone, possibly forming an abscess, which can cause secondary pain. In these cases, a diagnostic x-ray is essential so the dentist and endodontist can see what’s happening below the tooth and gum line.

Treatment

A child’s root canal is usually performed in office while under local anesthesia so as to numb the affected tooth. Before performing the root canal, the endodontist will place a rubber “dam” securely around the tooth to keep it isolated from the rest of the mouth. This is to eliminate the possibility of contamination. Once that is complete, a tiny drill will be used to create a small opening in the tooth so the endodontist can reach the pulp. Next, the diseased pulp tissue will be removed from the entire root canal and the pulp chamber and then the area will be disinfected. After the pulp is removed, the space is usually filled with a rubber-like natural material called gutta-percha. Once the endodontist is finished, they will seal the access hole.  At this time, a crown or other restoration process is applied, keeping the tooth from further decay.

The best way to ensure healthy teeth and prevent pulp damage is to teach healthy oral hygiene.  However, if your child is in need of a root canal, go to the specialists at the Center for Microsurgical Endodontics. They will make sure your child is completely taken care of and you are given all the information you need for post care and future preventative action. Contact us today if your child is in need of a root canal!