Baby Nerve Treatments
Natural teeth have a space inside them known as the “pulp”, which houses soft tissues including the blood vessels, nerves, and pink connective tissue. Primary (baby) teeth are smaller than adult teeth, and they’re shaped differently, which causes the nerves inside them to be affected more easily by decay. This is also the reason why children tend to be more susceptible to tooth discomfort and decay.
Tooth decay can cause a large cavity that allows bacteria to damage the pulp, causing a toothache. Upon diagnosis, the pediatric dentist may choose to treat the affected nerve in order to maintain the vitality of the tooth and prevent premature tooth loss. Losing a primary tooth too early may cause space and orthodontic issues when the permanent teeth begin to set in.
Signs that your child needs nerve treatment
Dental caries (cavities) or tooth injuries that extend to the tooth pulp tend to be painful, so the biggest indicator is unprovoked tooth discomfort. Your child may also experience:
- Facial swelling
- Constant throbbing
- A pimple in the gums
- Tooth discoloration (grey)
What to expect
The dentist will use dental X-rays to see inside the tooth and design an appropriate treatment plan. The objective of treatment is to remove the infected portion of the pulp tissue within the tooth crown and place a medicated filling over the remaining surface, restoring the tooth to its original form and function.
This is known as pulpotomy, and is only viable if a section of the soft tissue in the pulp is healthy, and can remain inside the tooth. If all the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth are removed (from the crown and tooth root), then the procedure is known as pulpectomy.
If the child is anxious, sedation may be used to help him/her relax and make the procedure easier and safer. After treatment, children can resume their normal eating habits. But it’s essential to maintain effective oral hygiene at home, combined with regular checkups and professional cleaning to reduce the risk of future decay and the need for expensive dental treatment.
Consult your dentist.
Please discuss with your dentist the benefits of nerve treatments compared to tooth removal. It may be necessary to save the primary teeth to preserve the positioning of the adult tooth when it erupts. But removal may be an option if the permanent tooth is about to erupt, or if the entire pulp chamber is infected.