It is possible for young children to lose their primary or milk teeth if the pulp inside the tooth becomes infected. This is generally as a result of some sort of dental trauma or tooth decay and even though primary teeth only last a few years, early tooth loss can create specific problems for a child so they might need root canal therapy.
Why it is Important to Preserve Primary Teeth
Primary teeth are important for guiding the permanent teeth that will eventually replace them, and injury or loss of primary teeth can be particularly awkward as the adult teeth will not have been fully developed, nor will jawbone growth be complete. In cases where teeth are lost prematurely then the risk of malocclusion or a bad bite is greatly increased. The types of dental work that are commonly used to replace adult teeth and which include dental bridges, partial dentures and dental implants cannot easily be used in young children as their jaws are still rapidly growing. Instead, a child that suffers early tooth loss may need a specially made appliance called a space maintainer.
This is why if your child visits our dental office with a damaged tooth and where the pulp is infected then we will do everything possible to try to save it. This is normally done by carrying out endodontic or root canal therapy but this is quite different to adult root canal therapy.
Different Root Canal Therapy Options for Primary Teeth
There are various different root canal therapy options that we may recommend depending on the extent of the damage to the tooth. For example, if there is tooth decay that is approaching the pulp and where if we were to remove all the damaged areas of the tooth this would be exposed, then we will take a different approach. Instead, we will remove as much of the decay as possible without exposing the pulp. An antibacterial agent is applied to the tooth to help soothe it and to prevent further infection. The tooth is then filled with special materials to help sterilize the area and a temporary filling is placed to allow the inflammation around the tooth to subside. A more permanent filling is then placed two or three months later and this helps protect the tooth until it is ready to fall out naturally on its own to make way for the adult tooth.
If the Pulp Has Become Accidentally Exposed
If the pulp has become exposed, perhaps through trauma and where there is no decay, our pediatric dentist Cliffside Park, NJ may be able to seal the tooth using special materials similar to those mentioned above. Another option is to partially remove the pulp by taking out the infected tissues in the crown portion of the tooth while leaving the tissues in the root canals that extend into the roots of the tooth. If the tooth is particularly badly infected then we will remove all the pulp tissue, including tissues extending into the tooth roots. Afterwards the tooth can be restored with a crown.
These types of root canal therapy will all help preserve your child’s primary teeth until they are ready to fall out on their own. By doing this we hope to eliminate any problems that can be caused by early tooth loss and of course by restoring these teeth your child will be able to eat and talk without discomfort or embarrassment.