15 answers

Has Anybody Ever Had a Child Get a Root Canal on a Baby Tooth.

My Grandson went to the dentist and the dentist said he needs a root canal. He is only five years old and it was a baby tooth. Six months later he went back to the dentist and he said he needed to pull that same tooth cause it was infected. Is that normal to do a root canal on a baby tooth? I just feel bad cause he was at the dentist twice and went through 2 not so fun experiences. I sure hope he doesn't have a fear of the dentist now.

What can I do next?

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My son got an abcess on a baby tooth when he was about 5 or6 and his pediatric dentist said they could do a root canal but that it was a baby tooth and he would lose it anyway so they just pulled it and put in a spacer to keep the other teeth from growing closer together. I would say it would be a waste of time, money, to have the root canal and pretty traumatic for a 5 yr old. Pulling it would be a better solution. Good Luck!

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I sure hope he doesn't have the fear of the dentist either and if the procedures were performed appropriately he shouldn't. I practice dentistry in West Des Moines, Iowa. My mother is a daycare provider and she forwarded this to me and I thought I should respond. The indication for a root canal on a child is age and developmentally specific. If the tooth has significant decay and the decay has entered the pulp (the center of the tooth where the nerve and blood supply is located) the only two choices for treatment are to remove the pulp tissue or extract the tooth. Often times parents choose to extract the tooth because they see a baby tooth as being unneeded or replaceable. The problem with extracting a baby tooth at this age is that the space where the tooth was located is very important for the permanent tooth later in life. If the tooth is removed a space maintenance device is needed or the teeth will shift to close the space. In order to save the tooth either a pulpotomy or a root canal is needed to remove the pulp tissue that became damaged from the deep decay. If it is possible to negotiate a file down the roots, it is beneficial to do the root canal, if not, simply cleaning out the coronal portion of the pulp chamber (the part of the pulp in the crown of the tooth) may work. The latter is called a pulpotomy. Medicine is put into the tooth and usually filled with a cotton pellet and temporary filling. Due to the significant loss of tooth structure a stainless steel crown is needed to protect the tooth afterwards. Hopefully this will succeed in keeping the tooth and maintaining the space needed for the permanent tooth later. If not there may be the need to extract the tooth in the future due to treatment failure and then, depending on the child's age, a space maintainer would need to be placed. If the child is normally developed and between the ages of 9-13 there may be no need to put in a spacer because the permanent tooth will be erupting soon. Thanks and let me know if you'd like any other info!

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My daughter is going in for something similar, just not as extensive. It is also a baby tooth and the dentist explained that if they were to pull the tooth she would lose the space in her mouth for future teeth. If there is too much space they would pull it, but for her she doesn't have extra space, so needs to save the tooth.

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I would see a different dentist- a pediatric one. My dentisit says root canals are not usually done on baby teeth because their roots are not like adult teeth. Most of the time they will pull it if it's that bad. The only time I can see them doing it is if would be like 8 years before that tooth falls out and they need a tooth there for spacing issues. My daughter had an issue with a back tooth. They drilled it out and put a temporary cap like thing on it and she was good to go until it fell out-- not root canaal done.

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My daughter at age 2 because of acid reflux damage had to have anestesia at the hospital and had 4 caps, 2 fillings and 2 sealants done. Thankfully, as it was a medical issue not lack of care it was completely covered by medical insurance. She is now 8 and looking forward to the day that her adult teeth come in so she does not have silver teeth. It surprises me that they pulled the tooth as I thought they needed their molars for speech development, chewing, proper spacing etc.
I am sorry that your grandson had to go through this...hopefully there will be no long term effect.
Smiles, L.

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my son had a baby tooth the same way, the dentist wanted to do a root canal and crown. being i have been in that same boat with my adult teeth. i asked if they could just pull it instead. then he agreed, but he didn't offer that option first. he said they try to save all the teeth even baby teeth as long as they can. that could be why they did't offer that in the first place.

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I would definitely get a second opinion - that sounds like drastic work for a little kid.

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D.,

I would suggest you contact the American Dental Association to get an expert opinion. Sometimes its all about the $$$ with our local dentists. To curtail any fears, next time you take your little one to the dentist, take along a small radio with head phones that play some of the child tunes.

I once had a bad experience as a child and it took me almost 30 years to overcome it. BTW, when I was younger (in my teens) a dentist once told me that I had a heredity gum disease and they were pulling my teeth like crazy. Well would'nt you know that I found a dentist in my forties that told me there was not such thing. But because of this bad info, I now have an upper and lower partial. But it was because of one dentist, that took the time to save my teeth instead of just taking the easy way out and pulling that I ahve the smile I have today. Good luck!!

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When I was little I had a root canal on a baby tooth and it wasn't painful or uncomfortable at all. It is a pretty standard procedure. Just because one's teeth are not permanent does not mean that they shouldn't receive care because when a baby tooth has to be removed it allows the other teeth to shift which can, in the long run, cause the need for braces.

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My son got an abcess on a baby tooth when he was about 5 or6 and his pediatric dentist said they could do a root canal but that it was a baby tooth and he would lose it anyway so they just pulled it and put in a spacer to keep the other teeth from growing closer together. I would say it would be a waste of time, money, to have the root canal and pretty traumatic for a 5 yr old. Pulling it would be a better solution. Good Luck!

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My daugher bumped her tooth very badly and it turned black. The Dentist said it would be fine and that there was almost no need to ever do a root canal on a baby tooth. I would defiantely get a second or even third opinion.

PS. After a few months, my daughter's tooth turned back to white. I'm glad i didn't have him pull it either.

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Our 3 yr old had a front top baby tooth that was chipped and ended up with an abcess/infection. After getting a second opinion (that ended up being the same as our dentists opinion), our dentist (who's a pediatric dentist) did a pulpotomy (sp?) which is like a mini root canal on it in an effort to save it. He said it works in about 50% of the cases. Unfortunately, hers did not clear up the infection and the tooth ended up being pulled. Personally, I'm still glad the dentist gave it a try. The dentist was so gentle with her...not once did she cry (and let me tell you that she is typically our overly-emotional child). I think if handled well by someone who knows how to work with kids, the dentist does not need to be a scarey place. All that being said, it's a good idea to get a second opinion and know that ultimately your child's care is your decision....dentists and doctors make recommendations, but the ultimate decision is ours. I'm sorry to hear that your grandson's experiences where not positive ones!!

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No it is not right to do a root canal on a baby tooth. Just call your dentist! I am sorry that your grandson had to go through that your daughter should have sought a 2nd option but for future information I would call around to other dentist or call the board of dentistry in your state and ask.
'This is still an imprefect world with not so nice people in it and that includes those who we think are professionals'
Always ask questions and get 2nd if not a 3rd option.
Never take what anyone says a writen on stone. ASK, ASK, and ASK again. BE INFORMED!

I asked my dentist and he said NO. He would have pulled the baby tooth out if it was infected. Think about it! Baby teeth fall out for a reason. Think! What good would a root canal do. If pulled out before its time the new tooth would take a bit longer to come in.

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HI.....my first 2 kids had great teeth. My last 2 kids both had 'baby root' canals
( or pulpectomy's ) at the same time. My 4 y/o had 2 and my 7 y/o needed 1 and both were molars. I felt horrible ( I cried ) as I thought it was my fault..." did they brush often enough" " should I brush for them"......My dentist said it is NOT uncommon for kids to need a pulpectomy. The roots on their little teeth are so small that it doesn't take long for decay to reach. My kids go to the dentist every 6 months. And from one visit to the next the decay happened. It is actually not an indepth procedure. -- A year later my daughter ( the youngest ) had to have one of her 2 silver crowns pulled. ( I since had changed dentists...but NOT due to the pulpectomy's ) I freaked out ( and cried ) when they said the decay had gone under her little crown. Again this other dentist said..."Not unusual to have a childs crown pulled." They do not fit as snug as an adults tooth. -- Plus, the pulpectomy is NOT as in depth/detailed as an adult root canal due to the root system. She did great with both procedures...she did better than I did and said she never felt anything! My son LOVED his 'golden' tooth. ( even though it's silver. ) -- The GOOD thing is.....it's a baby tooth and that is what both dentists told me and that did make me feel a lot better!
Dentists don't pull teeth just to pull them even if it's a baby tooth. That space can also cause problems if the teeth start to move. Then you need to deal with spacers etc. Another procedure and cost too. -- My son's pulpectomy ( silver tooth ) was fine til the day it fell out ( which was 2 years later ). My daughters 2nd crown is fine! She is not near ready to loose that tooth yet. Much better to have a crown than 2 holes in her mouth or the worry of her teeth moving apart due to 2 missing. From my 2 experiences and from working with 2 dentists ( saying the same things ) I feel they/you did the right thing. -- I hope this helps! B.

p.s. My 1st dentist said he thinks parents should help with brushing their kids teeth til at least 7 years...just too hard for them to get every tooth. And...they will keep an eye on the empty space. IF the teeth start moving then they will put in a spacer. But so far everything is good and it has been a year since the pulled tooth! She has no fears of the dentist.

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I would REALLY look into getting a second opinion and consult with an Endodentist. From what I know about problems concerning young children's baby teeth, the thought of anyone but a Pediatric Endodentist performing a root canal on a 5 year-old's baby tooth is quite troubling. I do hope you are able to get your Grandson in to see someone who specializes SPECIFICALLY in performing root canals in baby teeth of young children. What a good Grandma you are to be asking about this. My daughter has serious issues with some of her baby teeth and it can be very confusing when you are not connected with the right health professionals. I hope your Grandson's babyteeth woes are soon resolved and over.

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That sounds like poor judgment on behalf of the dentist, to me. Sounds like the dentist should have pulled the tooth from the beginning, especially since it is a baby tooth.

If it were my child, I'd be looking for a new dentist.

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