According to leading dentists, 9 out of every 10 root canal treatments are successful. In the context of pediatric dentistry, the procedure is even safer, and the success rate higher – simply because the treatment is easier to perform on kids. Even so, it is only natural for a parent to feel a tad apprehensive – if an endodontist informs that his/her child requires a root canal surgery. A thorough understanding of this oral treatment procedure allays most of such fears – and we will focus on providing that in today’s discussion. Read on:
Why might your child require a root canal treatment? – Three words: ‘to save tooth’. To explain things in detail, root canal treatments are prescribed by professional dentists for children to remove inflammations and/or infections from the pulp of the tooth (below the enamel surface). Such infections might develop due to tooth decays (neglected for long), dental fractures, chipped teeth, and various other reasons. There are many cases when high-impact collisions have led to dental trauma and tissue damage – rendering a root canal necessary.
How would you know if your child needs a root canal? – Provided that you take him/her for regular check-ups at a good local dental clinic, this would hardly be a problem. The pedodontist would be able to detect the symptoms that are likely indicators of tooth pulp and tissue damage. In case such dental checkups are not done, be wary if your kid complains of persistent toothaches, swollen/blood-oozing gums, and or a feeling of oversensitivity in the mouth. If you find that your child’s teeth have become darker than normal and/or gum sores have appeared – those are also telltale symptoms that a root canal operation is required. Get in touch with a qualified dental practitioner immediately.
Is root canal treatment a painful process? – Even if parents do not have this query, children will definitely do. Leading dentists for kids in Kolkata and other places confirm that during a root canal, the patient is not likely to feel any type of pain whatsoever (that’s a HUGE relief, right?). Dental hospitals invariably have the set-up and state-of-the-art architecture to make root canal operations quick, painless and completely safe. Local anesthesia is generally applied.
Is a child’s prior medical history relevant? – Yes, very much so. Any dentist for children worth his/her salt will ask whether your child has any chronic health problems, and if (s)he takes any medications on a regular basis. In most cases, these other medications (if any) might have to be stopped for a few days before and after the root canal treatment. After the post-surgical healing period, those medications can resume.
So, how does root canal treatment actually work? – Root canal surgery is by far the most effective method for getting rid of tissue infections in the teeth. The pediatric dental surgeon in charge of the operation would thoroughly clean and disinfect the interior portions of the root canal, after removing the compromised pulp. Then, a dental filling will be used to seal off the place. In most cases, children’s dentists use fillings made of thermoplastic material – which ensures that they fit correctly in the gaps.
Will the kid have to put on dental crowns? – Yes, since they make sure that the just-operated tooth/teeth does not get damaged in any way. In addition, pedodontists in Kolkata and abroad recommend light antibiotics, to prevent the risk of post-surgical infections. Root canal treatment is just like any other dental restoration procedure – once the healing is complete, the protective crowns and bridges can be removed (the doctor would tell you when removing the dental crowns would be safe).
How many visits does root canal surgery require? – It depends on a couple of factors. While a straightforward root canal on a tooth with single/few roots can be completed in a single sitting, 3-4 visits might be required to complete the procedure on teeth that have many roots, or if the roots are bent. Cases of kids having teeth with root canals bent or curved are not uncommon either – and these cases require multiple visits as well. During the pre-surgery check-up, the consultant pedodontist will prescribe dental x-rays – to find out exactly how the operation has to be conducted.
What are risks associated with root canal treatment? – An experienced dentist for children would take the necessary steps to tackle these risks – but it is just as well that you should be aware of them. The tissues around the affected area of the tooth pulp can accidentally get infected by bacteria. If the doctor in charge at your chosen dental clinic is not careful enough, (s)he might end up puncturing the side(s) of the affected tooth. In certain cases, finding the infected root canal might be an issue. These potential problems make it imperative to contact the best kids’ dentist available for conducting this surgery. You do not want to take chances with the oral health of your child, right?
Will there be any discomforts after the surgery? – Not likely, although a bit of soreness and a feeling of sensitivity in the the operated area is normal. OTC painkillers can be taken to relieve such problems – but do consult the dental surgeon before administering any such drug to your child. The degree of this post-surgical mouth soreness is directly proportional to the extent to which the infection had spread before root canal treatment was done.
Should a kid stay away from chewing with the tooth that has been operated on? – Yes. After an intensive endodontic treatment, a tooth tends to remain rather brittle for about a week (that’s why dental crowns are prescribed by doctors). Apart from not ‘using’ that tooth, regular brushing, flossing and other dental cleaning methods have to be rigorously followed. If the filling gets fractured by chance, further corrective oral surgeries might be required.
How costly is root canal treatment? – Again, this depends on the extent and severity of the dental pulp infections in the first place. On average, the root canal treatment cost is fairly competitive – with pediatric dental treatment centers generally not asking for advance payments. In general, performing a root canal on molars is more expensive than performing the same procedure on the incisors.
Is there any other alternative to root canal surgery? – Theoretically, yes. However, no good pediatric dentistry expert would recommend going for a full dental extraction instead of having a root canal surgery. The latter is entirely safe, completely painless and generally quick – and it is performed to save the teeth, instead of having to get it removed. You should also know that the notion of endodontically treated teeth having a shorter life-span than normal teeth is also a myth. Unless absolutely necessary, a root canal is the best way to relieve your kid from the pains of dental tissue and pulp infections.
This means root canal surgery can save ANY teeth, right? – No, there are scattered cases when performing a root canal is impossible, and tooth extraction is the only go-to option. Generally, pediatric dentists go for the latter option if it is found that the affected tooth has insufficient bone support, or the fracture in the root is too serious. Other complications can also make dental restoration impossible. Thanks to the rapid development of dental treatment techniques over the last few years though, more teeth can now be saved via root canals than before.
Is going to the dental clinic necessary after the operation? – Professional dentists for children draw up detailed post-root canal recovery plan. Parents have to come for follow-up examinations, during which dental x-rays and scans are done to ensure that the operated tooth is healing properly. The correct technique for flossing will also be shown by the doctor. In general too, you should bring your kid for regular dental check-ups.
Gutta Percha is the name of the filling material that is generally used by pedodontists during root canal operations. Chances of toothaches persisting for more than a few days after the operation are minimal – but if that happens, you need to get in touch with the concerned dental surgeon immediately. Root canal treatment is not more complicated, and is certainly not riskier than any regular oral treatment procedure. There is no need for you, or your child, to be afraid of it!