November 12th REGISTER NOW
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Does your child need a root canal therapy?

People often question whether it is really important to save a baby’s tooth! The general notion goes that baby tooth is not that important as they are not permanent ones. But this is not true. Saving baby tooth is equally important because they are responsible for speech development, chewing and most importantly, the alignment of newly developing permanent teeth. Premature loss of infant teeth could therefore lead to serious consequences.

So, what impact does baby tooth loss have?

The baby tooth holds space open for the permanent tooth to emerge behind it in future. If it falls out prematurely, the remaining teeth might shift their position. This ultimately affects the alignment of permanent teeth. All this happens because all baby teeth do not fall off at the same time. Hence a premature gap created would create room for others to shift!

It goes without mentioning that all teeth whether it is the case of adults, children or teenagers with newly erupted permanent tooth, may undergo a root canal therapy. Newly erupted permanent tooth holders very rarely face the condition of the tooth roots remaining underdeveloped which calls for a root canal ultimately.

When is a Root Canal needed?

In case of children, deep gone cavities or a serious sports injury (like the one caused by a ball hitting your kid’s mouth) can result in a pulp damage. Since the pulp houses the nerve, blood vessels and other connective tissues, it is an important part of growing teeth. In adult teeth the nerve within the pulp functions in sending the pain signals to your brain. Sometimes this functionality gets damaged too. Therefore, pulp damage gets detected at later stages when there is no other option but to pull it out.

General symptoms that hint at a possible RCT

Generally speaking, ‘pain’ is the most common indicator of any dental procedure. In case of a tooth infection too, pain is the primary indicator. A detailed examination helps your dentist to determine whether the infection has gone down to the tooth roots and affected the pulp. Before getting into the details of the various dental examination procedures, let us have a glimpse of the common symptoms:

✓ The pain would be severe enough to affect chewing

✓Sensitivity to too hot or too cold foods and beverages (particularly one that persists more than 30 seconds after the stimulus has been removed)

✓ Gradual darkening of the tooth

✓ Swelling and inflammation near the gums.

✓ Appearance of a white pimple on the gums.

✓ Sensitivity might be triggered by highly sweetened or acidic foods too

How is your child diagnosed for undergoing a root canal therapy?

Detection of a tooth and pulp damage is the most important part. For this, your endodontist adopts some dental examinations that help him determine upon a root canal for your child. The tests conducted include:


Dental x-rays are essential to visualize the condition inside your tooth below the gum line.

This is the most common technique used by dentists to detect the need for a root canal. It aids him or her to find out underlying infections, if any. Digital X-rays are a trend now. They come with added advantages like:

✓ Lesser radiation

✓ Real time viewing of your tooth’s inner part

✓ Better vision of the entire structure from various angles.

✓ Lesser waiting time before the process.

So, parents who were earlier concerned about their kids unnecessarily being exposed to unwanted rays need not worry anymore!

A very common observation called ‘radiolucency’ is a dark spot around the root of the infected tooth. Radiolucency immediately calls for a root canal. It certainly goes without saying that the X-ray testing method is a painless one.

Thermal Testing:

The technique of thermal testing is where your child’s teeth are exposed to hot and cold temperatures. The way the teeth react to these stimuli tells your pediatric dentist about the condition of the tooth’s nerve tissue. If a tooth responds painfully to both the extremes (hot or cold), it indicates that a root canal is required. Some children might feel the pain while heat is applied and get a relief with the cold touch.

The most important determining factor for your child’s root canal is however the duration of the response. A healthy tooth may be sensitive to these temperatures, but will stop hurting almost immediately after the stimulus is removed. An infected tooth on the other hand, will ache and the pain will linger even after 30 seconds of removing the hot or cold touch.

Once your child’s endodontist recommends a root canal you might be perhaps be terrified at the thought of sensitivity and pain that it may result in. But wait! With modern sedation dentistry techniques, pain killers and advanced dental procedures, root canal therapy for kids have become as easy and less time consuming as that for adults.