Baby teeth aren’t meant to last, but that doesn’t make them disposable. Tooth decay among very young children is a growing problem in America, and unfortunately not many parents understand exactly what’s at stake.
Because baby teeth are meant to fall out, many parents assume that cavities and other signs of decay in their young children’s teeth are nothing to be concerned about. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Baby teeth not only should be cared for the same way we care for permanent teeth, but it may be necessary to turn to a form of root canal to save decaying or damaged baby teeth.
Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions affecting children in the United States, with nearly 20 percent of children ages 5 to 11 suffering from at least one untreated decaying tooth in their lifetime. In addition to the pain and discomfort cavities and other forms of tooth decay inflict on children, there can be other, much more serious results if decaying baby teeth are left untreated. Tooth decay may lead to sinus infections, poor sleep, poor speech articulation and low self-esteem.
Losing baby teeth to decay also can have serious repercussions to the development of a child’s permanent teeth. When a baby tooth is lost prematurely due to disease or damage, the baby teeth around it can crowd into the empty space. This makes it more difficult for the permanent teeth below to come in straight, the way they normally would. In turn, this affects the development of the permanent teeth around them, creating a chain reaction that can lead to serious orthodontic work later in the child’s life.
Given how serious tooth decay can be for a young child’s development, fighting it should be a high priority for parents. Obviously, regular brushing and flossing are extremely important. In cases where a child’s baby tooth has a cavity or another form of tooth decay, however, your pediatric dentist may suggest a form of root canal —called a pulpotomy — to save the tooth until it is ready to fall out on its own.
It’s important for parents to understand the process and purpose behind the pulpotomy procedure. Although it may seem like an excessive measure to save a baby tooth, it actually is far less invasive than a root canal for an adult and will go a long way to providing relief for a child’s pain and discomfort. With some basic understanding of the procedure, parents can help prepare their children for a pulpotomy to minimize their anxiety and make the entire process less stressful for everyone involved.
The following guide will take you step by step through the pulpotomy procedure and explain how you, as a parent, can help your child prepare for it. In the vast majority of cases, a pulpotomy is completely successful in saving a child’s baby tooth, sparing the child from dental complications that could have long-lasting effects. Don’t assume that because a baby tooth isn’t permanent that it isn’t worth saving.
Root Canals for Children was created and designed by Grove Dental
Author bio: Darla Scheidt is the Marketing Director of Grove Dental Associates, a successful multi-office group dental practice in the Western suburbs of Chicago. With four offices, more than 30 doctors and over 40 years of experience, Grove Dental stays on the cutting edge of dentistry to better serve patients.