Endodontic or root canal treatment focuses on the pulp of the tooth. The pulp contains nerves and blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the tooth. Endodontic treatment is performed in order to save the tooth when the pulp gets infected or injured. During treatment, the hollow area inside the tooth is cleaned, disinfected and filled.
When the pulp has been injured by trauma, decay or other causes, endodontic treatment is usually the best way to try to save the tooth. Unless a child's tooth is about to fall out, a dentist may recommend endodontic treatment on a childs primary(baby) tooth. Without treatment, the child will experience pain or discomfort, and infection may result. Early extraction of the primary tooth is usually not advisable because primary teeth are necessary for chewing and for learning proper pronunciation during language development. Also if a baby tooth is extracted too early, neighboring teeth can shift and occupy some of the vacant space making it difficult for the permanent tooth to grow in properly.
Symptoms that indicate a need for endodontic treatment can include toothache, sensitivity to hot and cold, or if the pulp has been exposed due to fracture and the child is experiencing sensitivity.
The type of endodontic treatment that may be recommended depends on how seriously the pulp is affected, an evaluation of the tooth and the results of an X-ray. There are two types of pulp therapy, depending on the condition of the tooth pulp:
1) Vital Pulp Therapy the goal of vital pulp therapy is to preserve and protect the pulp. In this procedure, the pulp is only removed from the crown of the tooth and not from the root. Vital pulp therapy is only recommeded if there is no swelling or abscess and the tooth is not loose. There are four main types of vital pulp therapy for baby teeth:
2) Non-vital pulp therapy - Non-vital pulp therapy(also known as root canal treatment) is required out when there is no chance of saving the pulp. The endodontist will remove the entire tooth pulp from inside the tooth and will clean and fill the canals with a special material. A stainless steel crown is then placed on the tooth to prevent it from fracturing.
Extraction versus Endodontic Treatment for Primary Teeth
Many factors need to be considered when determining whether an extraction or an endodontic treatment is the right choice for your child. The choice of treatment depends on factors such as: