Pulp Treatment for Primary Teeth
If your child gets a cavity in one of his precious baby teeth, the exposed nerve can cause pain that interferes with his — and your — happiness. But neither you nor your children need to suffer. When cavities happen — and they will — find the dentist to repair the tooth and stop the pain.
Dentist treat children every day. They’re familiar with the various treatments for each situation that can befall your child’s mouth. They’re skilled at keeping your kids calm during the examination. They’re great at finding the cause of the pain and recommending the most effective treatment.
Those Precious Pearly Whites
Most children get their first baby teeth around six months of age. Those primary teeth usually begin falling out to make way for permanent teeth by the time your child is six years old. Don’t think of them as temporary teeth, though. According to the Mila Cohen, primary teeth serve some important functions:
- They help your children chew solid food, so they can eat an age-appropriate and nutritious diet. Without the ability to chew thoroughly, your children can’t properly digest their meals.
- Primary teeth aid in speech development, keeping the tongue in place as your child learns to pronounce words.
- They hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth; if a child loses a primary tooth too soon, the other teeth can move into its place and cause problems when the permanent teeth begin to erupt.
- Baby teeth give your children’s self-confidence a boost and help their social development. Even young babies smile at each other and learn to respond to others’ smiles. If your child feels self-conscious about his smile, he may miss opportunities to make positive connections.
The Best-Laid Plans
No parent wants their children to get cavities, so you do your best to keep your kids’ teeth healthy and clean. But getting them to brush thoroughly can be a challenge. Even when you help, it can be hard to hit every surface of every tooth. Sometimes, it can seem like toddlers develop super-human strength or turn into little contortionists when they’re trying to fight off a toothbrush.
Even if you clean your child’s teeth diligently, cavities can occur. You limit sugar in his diet and keep him from falling asleep with a bottle of formula, juice or milk in his mouth, but cavities pop up anyway. Your child may not feel any pain or show any symptoms until the tooth pulp is exposed. Once that happens, take him to the best children dentist in NJ for restorative treatment.[pgcallout]
A Bundle of Nerves
Sometimes, a cavity can be treated with a simple filling. However, if the cavity has gone deep enough that the nerve of the tooth is exposed, a more involved restorative treatment may be necessary. In this case, the dentists performs a pulp treatment, sometimes known as a nerve treatment.
Probably the most important part of the tooth is the pulp. It sits under the top layers of enamel and dentin in the center of the tooth. Pulp refers to the tissues, nerves and blood vessels that make up the center of a tooth.
There are two types of pulp treatments. The type your child needs will depend on how much damage has been done to the tooth. In both cases, the goal is to preserve as much of the nerve as possible and to restore the surface of the tooth. The two types are:
- If the decay on your child’s cavity has just started to reach the nerve, the best children’s dentist in NJ can perform a pulpotomy:
- First, your child’s mouth is numbed with an anesthetic to eliminate pain during the procedure.
- Then the dentist uses special tools to remove the pulp, part of the nerve, and the decay from the crown of the tooth. The crown is the part of the tooth that’s visible above the gum line; the root extends below the gum line and is not affected during a pulpotomy.
- What’s left of the nerve is treated with a solution that disinfects, treats and soothes it.
- Finally, the dentist places an artificial crown over the tooth. This covers the entire visible surface of the tooth and helps prevent further cavities.
- If the cavity is deeper and the decay has moved further into the tooth, causing an abscess, a pulpectomy may be necessary. This procedure is sometimes known as a “baby root canal:”
- As with the pulpotomy, your child’s mouth is carefully numbed before the treatment begins.
- The best childrens dentist in NJ removes all of the infected pulp and the nerve from inside your child’s tooth, both in the crown and in the root. All of the diseased material is removed.
- Then the dentist cleans, medicates and disinfects the inside of the tooth.
- A dental crown is placed over the tooth to protect the remaining tooth and allow normal dental development to continue.
Regardless which procedure your child had, his mouth is likely to be sore for a little while afterward, especially as the anesthesia wears off. Follow your dentist’s instructions carefully. Your child may need to take over-the-counter pain relief to ease the discomfort. Let him eat a diet of soft foods for a few days as the tenderness subsides.
Back on Track to a Healthy Smile
If your child needs pulp treatment to ease the pain and restore his smile, do everything you can afterward to avoid a repeat occurrence. Here are a few ways to keep that perfect smile shining day after day:
- Make an appointment with the dentist every six months. Your child needs a professional cleaning and a checkup twice a year. The dentist can find areas where cavities are starting to form. If dental problems are caught early, they can often be treated with a less-invasive procedure than a pulp treatment.
- Help your children brush and floss regularly — ideally, after every meal, but at least twice a day. A timer can help your kids brush long enough. Some toothbrushes even have lights or music that begin when they start brushing and turn off when they’ve brushed long enough. If your kids have a hard time brushing thoroughly, help them reach the difficult areas. Brushing your teeth together provides a good example and shows that good dental hygiene is important to the whole family.
Limit sugary drinks and snacks, especially in bottles or sippy cups. Soft drinks and many fruit-flavored beverages are high in sugar, and even milk and fruit juice are high in natural sugars. Make sure your kids drink plenty of water throughout the day instead to keep them hydrated and help wash away food particles between brushing. Avoid sticky foods like caramel, fruit snacks and gummy bears. Instead, opt for crunchy snacks like carrot sticks or apple slices that won’t stick to the surface of teeth and cause decay.