If your child is complaining of tooth pain, and you also notice bad breath, tooth discoloration, or gum inflammation, he or she could have a root canal infection. Get your child in to see a dentist right away to see if they need endodontic treatment. Endodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on the treatment of tooth pulp, or the living tissue and nerves inside of a tooth.
See why children need endodontic treatment, how they are diagnosed, and how the issue can be resolved.
Why Do Children Need Endodontic Treatment?
If your child has a pulp infection in a baby tooth, it may seem like a hassle to have it treated since the tooth will eventually fall out regardless. However, even though baby teeth will fall out, it’s still important for your child to have healthy teeth to eat with and to speak properly.
Baby teeth also hold the spaces of permanent teeth, so if they fall out too soon, then adjacent teeth could fill and crowd that space, causing adult teeth to erupt in tilted positions. Lastly, if the pulp has become incredibly infected, it can spread and damage gum tissue and bone tissue.
Infected pulp tissue can lead to the formation of abscesses or pus-filled pockets at the end of tooth roots. These abscesses are painful and can make your child very sick if the bacteria spreads.
What Testing is Done to Check for Damaged Pulp?
When you take your child into the dentist, the office will take periapical x-rays, which show the full length of the tooth root and its surrounding tissues. Along with x-rays, your dentist will conduct stimulus testing. When tooth pulp has died or is necrotic, then it won’t respond to stimuli.
If the tooth still responds to stimulus testing, then there is a chance to still save the pulp tissue. Here just a few tests the dentist may use.
Your dentist may use a metal instrument to tap the top of each tooth. If your child doesn’t feel anything, then the pulp tissue has likely died.
The dentist may apply a little bit of pressure near the gum line and tooth root to see how inflamed the tissue is and if your child can feel the pressure.
Cold and Heat Testing
The dentist may spray a cotton roll with a chemical that causes either a hot or cold sensation. Then he or she has your child bite on the cotton roll. If he or she is sensitive to the temperature changes, then your child’s pulp can still be saved.
What Treatments Can Be Done Besides Root Canal Therapy?
If the tooth pulp is completely necrotic, then the dentist may perform a root canal treatment or decide to extract the tooth. However, if your child’s pulp tissue is still alive (known as reversible pulpitis), there are other endodontic options to explore.
Sometimes all the dentist needs to do is remove decay and place a filling with an antimicrobial layer. Once the decay is removed, then the symptoms of a pulp infection will subside.
If your child’s dentin is still intact, then the dentist can remove any decay and place a cap of calcium hydroxide to help the pulp heal underneath the dentin. If the pulp tissue is already exposed, then the dentist can place a protective dressing directly onto the pulp. These dressings help the pulp repair itself and help to seal out bacteria.
Instead of completely removing the pulp, a pulpotomy is a procedure where the dentist will only remove portions of the tooth pulp. Then he or she will fill the canals and place a crown over the tooth.
Contact us at Apollo Dental about the best course of action. If the tooth is about ready to fall out, then an extraction could be an option. If your child already has a permanent tooth with infected pulp, then an endodontic treatment may be a better course since it saves the damaged tooth.