C.H. asks from Augusta, GA on February 27, 2012
Root Canals on Children
I am a mom of a two years old and I took him to the dentist the other day and they were suppose to perform a cavity fill, which honestly I feel may not be completely necessary because he will lose those teeth, not to mention I didn't have fillings as a kid and my teeth came out fine. Anyway I get him and they tell me they put a crown on him and had to remove the nerve...at the moment it hadn't registered to me that they had performed a root canal on my little one until I left and it has been bothering me ever since because I was not made aware of the situation and was not given a choice. I mean was this really a necessary procedure for a two year old, and so I have been talking to others who I know that go there and it seems this guy is doing root canals on several kids and they are not saying that that is what has been done. I called the dentist to confirm that that was what had happened and they said yes...I don't know what to think or do...need some others advice??/
S.M. answers from Dallas on February 27, 2012
My daughter is 11 and she recently had to have a root canal on a baby tooth and get a cap. Now, they did tell me everything they were doing and why before they did anything. I think it was wrong for your dentist not to tell you. Here is what happened with my daughter: She had a cavity which, like you, I decided not to fill because it was a baby tooth and was going to fall out anyway. Well, that was my first mistake. The cavity got worse, then a couple of weeks ago, she broke it on a piece of candy. It broke because the tooth was already so weak because we didn't fill it. So I took her to the dentist and they took x-rays, where they found that the adult tooth was still a long way from coming in so they said they had to do the baby root canal because the damage was so deep and they could not just pull the tooth because they had to save the space for the adult tooth to come in. If there is an empty space for that long amount of time, the teeth will shift, then when it's time for the adult tooth to come in, it doesn't have enough room. So that is why they capped it. I am guessing the cavity on your little one was so deep that he was in the same situation with needing the root canal and cap. Your dentist really should have explained everything to you. If it were me, I would find a different dentist. You deserve to know what is going on before they do anything. Especially on a child that young.
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J.M. answers from Denver on February 28, 2012
On primary/baby teeth, it is called a pulpotomy and is usually done when the cavity is so large that it has encroached on the nerve/pulp chamber. The pulp chamber in baby teeth is very large. When a cavity is removed, it often undermines the cusps of the teeth making them very susceptible to fracture, thus the requirement for a crown. If a pulpotomy is not done and the baby tooth gets infected/abscessed, it will cause damage to the permanent tooth that is developing beneath it. Some baby teeth (molars) are retained until age 12, give or take a few years. The dentist did the right thing in this case; however, you should have been informed as he/she discovered that the pulpotomy and crown would be required. A root canal removes the nerves and blood vessels from the pulp chamber and roots and then that space is packed with gutta percha so that tissue doesn’t enter that area from the root and become reinfected. Pulpotomies do not have gutta percha placed in the roots, but rather a calcium hydroxide compound paced into the nerve chamber. Both the calcium hydroxide compound and gutta percha are radiopaque so that when an x-ray is taken the dentist can identify that this procedure has been performed. After pulpotomies and root canals, most teeth require a crown because they become brittle and are much more susceptible to fracture. Again, there is no excuse for the dentist to not have informed you as the procedure was taking place, but the procedures performed were absolutely necessary especially when you consider that your child will retain that tooth for another 10 years. The crown also helps maintain the space that the baby tooth filled. When baby teeth are extracted and no space maintainer is placed, there is even less room for the permanent teeth to erupt, and more problems created down the road. I hope this explains why these proceedures were done and the long term benefit that your child will receive from this. I was a dental assistant for 15 years and have assisted on this proceedure numerous times.
A.L. answers from Charleston on February 28, 2012
I think it was wrong of your dentist to not let you know what they were doing and give you the option of waiting and getting a 2nd opinion. Besides that, there are more expensive costs with that procedure, so more than likely, you'll be paying more than you expected. That's not right to not have informed you of this first. It doesn't take much for the dentist to get up, and walk out to the waiting room to inform you of what he discovered and his recommendation on how to fix it. I'd definitely look into finding a new dentist that communicates better.
I would have been ok with the procedure being done because of the exact reasons @Sarah H said. Don't mess around with not filling cavities with baby teeth - it affects how/where the adult teeth come in!
D.H. answers from Louisville on February 27, 2012
I've always wondered about root canals, esp on baby teeth ... get with your insurance and see what details they got!!
J.B. answers from Los Angeles on February 27, 2012
i think it is for the better that he had it. maybe the cavity was deeper then they thought. so they did a root canal. if left a lone it would abces and become painful then it would be traumatic for him. my 4 year old had 2 cavities filled on her back bottom two molars. i didnt even hesitate making the appointment because i dont want it to get worse. if my daughter would have had a root canal while getting a cavity filled i wouldnt mind because its something thats needed.