Dental Procedure Pain: Get the Facts

Does Your Child Need A Root Canal? What Parents Need To Know

As a parent, it's natural to be concerned about your child's dental health. One procedure that parents might fear for their children is a root canal. A root canal can be an intimidating procedure for anyone, but when it comes to your child, the fear is even more amplified. Although root canals are common, parents may still not fully understand the procedure, what causes a root canal, what to expect during a root canal, and what sedative options are available for children. Here's the information parents need to make an informed decision if and when their child needs a root canal.

What Causes a Root Canal?

A root canal may be necessary if the pulp, the soft tissue inside the tooth, becomes infected or inflamed. This infection can happen due to a deep cavity, a cracked or broken tooth, or repeated dental procedures on the same tooth. Without treatment, the infection is painful and may lead to tooth loss. A root canal is a way to save the tooth and prevent further problems.

What Should Your Child Expect During a Root Canal?

While a root canal may sound scary, it is a routine procedure typically performed in one or two visits. The dentist numbs the area with local anesthesia and the infected pulp is removed. The empty space is filled with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The tooth is sealed with a filling or crown to restore its function and protect it from further damage or decay in a later visit.

Are There Sedative Options for a Root Canal?

Dentists may offer sedation options during the procedure to help alleviate any apprehension or anxiety your child may have. Local anesthesia will numb the area, but if additional sedation is needed, you have options, including:

  • Oral sedation - This option is a pill that your child takes prior to the procedure that will help them relax.
  • Nitrous oxide - Commonly known as 'laughing gas,' nitrous oxide can help ease fear and anxiety about the root canal. It is administered through a small mask over the nose and mouth or a small tube inserted into the nose.
  • IV sedation - This option is administered intravenously and helps keep your child relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. Depending on your doctor's preference and the level of medicine, your child may or may not be fully awake.

As parents, it's important to address a root canal and other dental issues as soon as possible to prevent further complications. Root canals are common, routine dental procedures that can save your child's tooth and protect their smile. Don't hesitate to ask your dentist any questions you may have about dental procedures, sedation options, and root canals in particular. By being informed and prepared, you can help ensure that your child receives the best dental care possible.