This February, Consider Another Aspect of Children’s Oral Health: The Root Canal Treatment
When it comes to the dental health of our children, the public tends to often think about avoiding sugar and cavities; brushing and flossing regularly; whether their children need braces; and, of course, the going rate for the tooth fairy. During February’s National Children’s Dental Health Month, it’s a good time to remind people of another critical piece to a child’s dental health: root canal treatment.
It’s counterintuitive of course, because when people think of root canal treatments, many people assume they are only for grown-ups. As endodontists, the dental experts in tooth pain and root canal treatment, we’d like to take this opportunity to dispel three myths:
Myth #1: Children don’t need root canal treatments
A root canal treatment is a procedure to remove diseased pulp from any tooth, baby or permanent. The pulp is tissue that contains nerves and blood vessels that fill the roots of teeth. Each root secures the tooth into your gums and jawbone, no matter your age. Children may need a root canal treatment if the tooth is damaged or infected. A cavity causing an infection or an accident in sports can injury the nerve and lead to a root canal treatment. A root canal treatment can be done on both baby teeth and permanent teeth. Baby teeth are meant to make room for your permanent teeth and fall out on their own when the timing is right. Conversely, if a baby tooth comes out too soon, children can develop bite or speech problems. A root canal treatment can help save baby teeth, allowing the permanent teeth to grow and come in when they are ready. Root canal treatment can also save the first permanent molar teeth that come in when kids are between 6 and 12 years old. These teeth are also important as provide good chewing teeth for a lifetime.
Myth #2: Root canals are painful
Root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain, it relieves pain. In fact, root canal procedures are virtually painless, despite the stories and jokes you may have heard. With advanced technology and anesthetics, children won’t experience any more pain than having a cavity filled. Endodontists are experts in pain management and can treat most cases quickly and comfortably. When children are experiencing tooth pain, the sooner they are treated, the quicker they will be pain free.
Myth #3: It’s better to pull a tooth than have a root canal treatment
Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is always the best option. Nothing artificial can replace the look, feel or function of a natural tooth. It’s important to always consider root canal treatment as an option. Endodontic treatment has a high success rate and many root canal-treated teeth last a lifetime. Replacing an extracted tooth with a bridge or implant requires more time in treatment and may result in further procedures to neighboring teeth and supporting tissue.
Today we undoubtedly live in a disposable, all-things-recyclable era. Yet some things are truly worth saving, preserving and revering. Our teeth are a gateway to nutrition, a sign of emotion, a signal of overall good health and 100% worth saving. Endodontists are the best equipped to save teeth and our children deserve their care in helping them keep their teeth for the rest of their lives.
Visit patients.aae.org for more resources to help educate on root canal treatment.