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Root Canal in Children

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure to remove diseased pulp from your child's tooth. The pulp is tissue that contains nerves and blood vessels that fill the tooth roots. Each root secures your child's tooth to his or her gum and jawbone. Your child may need a root canal if the tooth is damaged or infected. An abscess (pocket of pus), cavities, or an accident or injury can also lead to a root canal. A root canal can be done on baby teeth and permanent teeth. Baby teeth are meant to fall out on their own. If a baby tooth comes out too soon, your child can develop bite or speech problems. A root canal can help save the tooth and give it time to fall out when it is ready.

How do I prepare my child for a root canal?

What happens during a root canal?

What happens after a root canal?

Your child may have some pain after the procedure. This is normal and should go away in a few hours. The dental provider may prescribe pain medicine or recommend an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as an NSAID. Ask your child's provider when your child can eat and drink again. Ask about any special instructions for caring for your child's tooth after a root canal. If a temporary crown is used, the provider will replace it with a permanent crown about 1 week later.

What are the risks of a root canal?

The cleaning fluid used to clean the root may enter nearby tissues and cause swelling, bruising, or an infection. The tip of a dental tool may get stuck in your child's root canal. Your child may swallow the tip if it drops into his or her mouth. Your child may get a fistula (abnormal tissue opening) between the tooth root and the sinus. The diseased tissue may not be completely removed. The root may not be completely filled, or the seal may not be tight. This means germs could enter your child's tooth and cause an infection. Your child may need another root canal, or the tooth may need to be removed.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.