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Are Root Canals Necessary With Children?

Baby teeth respond well to the removal of a diseased part of the dental pulp (nerve) while leaving the healthy portion intact. The cavity will be removed from the tooth in addition to the portion of the pulp that has been infected by the bacteria of the cavity. A disinfectant is placed on top of the remaining pulp, the tooth is sealed and a crown (silver cap) is placed over the tooth. This allows the tooth to stay vital (alive) in the mouth.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a pulpotomy?

The obvious benefit is that the tooth is maintained in service and holds the space for the developing permanent tooth below it. The disadvantages are teeth that receive nerve treatments likely require a crown (sliver cap) to be placed on the tooth to provide adequate strength. Occasionally, the bacteria invade the nerve completely and a pulpotomy fails and the tooth must be removed, but the risk is low.

Are there alternatives?

Alternatives include removal of the tooth (with the diseased nerve) and placement of a space maintainer, which allows the room to be “held open” for the permanent tooth to erupt between the ages of 10-11 years old.

What are the cost differences?

Although the cost for a pulpotomy and crown are moderate, they are similar in price for the removal of the tooth and a space maintainer. Remember that the cost of either treatment likely ensures that the space for the erupting permanent tooth will be held over the next few years.

What is the result of non-treatment?

Usually the patient will experience continued and increased pain and infection. There is also a risk of damage to the underlying permanent tooth below the infected primary (baby) tooth. Ignored nerve infection will usually result in an abscess and require removal of the tooth.