Root Canal Treatment for Children

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Pediatric Dental Treatment in Spring Lake & Grand Haven, MI

At the office of Dr. Joe D. Arbutante, D.D.S., we strive to provide high-quality dental treatment to patients of all ages while maintaining a warm, welcoming office environment. Dr. Arbutante and our highly trained team of dental specialists work hard to design personalized treatment plans to suit each patient's unique dental needs, and we have the skills and experience to make every visit to our office a pleasant experience for everyone involved - even the little ones. We focus on preventative care at our office, especially for children, but sometimes problems do happen - and when they do, a root canal may be an effective way to save a damaged or decaying tooth.

Why Save Baby Teeth?

A root canal is one of the most effective ways to prevent losing a tooth to decay, damage, or injury, and it also helps to alleviate tooth pain in the long run. It's a common procedure for adults, and sometimes we recommend it for children - but if we do, you may be wondering why we'd work so hard to save a tooth that will fall out eventually anyways.

While primary teeth do eventually fall out, that doesn't make them any less important than permanent teeth. Baby teeth play a critical role in helping children learn to eat, chew, breathe, and speak correctly, and they're also important guides for helping the permanent teeth erupt properly. Sometimes it's alright if a primary teeth falls out a little too early, but if decay progresses to the point of threatening a tooth too early on, we may recommend a root canal to save the tooth.

Root Canals for Children

Root canal treatment for children.Most often, we'll recommend a root canal when a cavity progresses too deep into a tooth. For superficial, shallow cavities, fillings are a great way to halt the decay and heal the tooth, but if dental decay progresses all the way through the hard enamel and dentin of the tooth, it reaches the soft dental pulp inside the tooth. Once there, the infection can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of the tooth and may even spread to the gums. 

A root canal stops the decay and rebuilds the structural integrity of the tooth by removing the decayed or dying tissue and replacing it with a strong, biocompatible material. Depending on the extent of the decay, we may recommend a few different kinds of treatment:

  • Indirect Pulp Treatment: When pulp damage isn't extensive, it's often possible to simply clean away the decay, apply an antibiotic to prevent further decay, and seal up the tooth again. This "indirect" form of treatment leaves most of the root, pulp, and tooth intact, creating a minimally invasive solution.
  • Pulpotomy: If the decay has hit the pulp but hasn't progressed all the way through the root, we may be able to remove only the damaged pulp, disinfect and stabilize the healthy pulp, and seal the tooth. This is a "partial" root canal that's proven effective time and again for a variety of cases.
  • Pulpectomy: If the pulp is infected all the way through the root, however, we'll likely need to perform a full root canal. This involves removing the pulp tissue entirely, disinfecting and reshaping the canals, then filling the canals with a strong, biocompatible filler material. With the fill in place, we'll seal the tooth with a crown that restores the full shape, function, and appearance of the tooth. For children's root canals, we use a special filler that the body can easily break down so when the baby tooth does come off, the body can reabsorb the root and allow the permanent tooth to erupt normally.

Preparing for a Root Canal for Your Child

Root canals may be one of the most infamous procedures in dentistry - but the truth is, it's nothing to worry about. Contrary to popular belief, root canals are performed under anesthesia so they cause almost no pain, and in the long run, they prevent serious discomfort from the infection. To help prepare your child for the procedure, we encourage you to talk with your child about their feelings about the treatment and to explain that it'll cause minimal discomfort and save them a lot of trouble in the long run.

It's completely understandable that you may be nervous about the procedure, but we always recommend using a calm voice when discussing it to avoid instilling anxiety in your child. After all, the whole treatment will take just a few hours, and it'll restore your child's naturally healthy, beautiful smile!

Contact Your Spring Lake & Grand Haven, MI Family Dentist

The prospect of a root canal may be a little intimidating, but they're nothing to fear. If your child has a cavity or you think a root canal might be right for them, we're always here to help. Feel free to give us a call at 616-842-0090, reach out to us at our contact page, or use our easy online form to request a consultation at our Spring Lake office. We can't wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping your child develop a beautiful, healthy smile that lasts them a lifetime!=​

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