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Baby Root Canal and Crown Procedure for Kids: What Parents Should Know

by Youth Dental

Baby Root Canal and Crown Procedure for Kids: What Parents Should Know

Reviewed By Dr. Jodi Kuhn

Reading time: 6 minutes

We understand that dental procedures can be very daunting for both kids and parents. But, like most things in life, if you know what to expect, it’s not as scary!

At Youth Dental, we strive to educate parents and kids about common dental procedures. In today’s blog, we will talk about baby root canals and crowns.

We will answer these 4 questions:

  1. What is a baby root canal?
  2. When is a baby root canal needed?
  3. What are the steps of the procedure?
  4. How can I prepare my child for the appointment?

Key Takeaway

A baby root canal is necessary when bacteria enter the pulp chamber and cause infection. The procedure involves removing the affected pulp and tissue and covering the tooth with a dental crown. The procedure stops the infection from spreading from the tooth to the jaw bone and is necessary if the tooth has extensive decay or has been damaged due to injury.

What is a Baby Root Canal?

A baby root canal (aka pulpotomy) is a dental procedure done on a child’s primary or baby tooth when it is infected or badly decayed. The goal of a root canal is to remove the infected parts, clean the tooth, and protect it from further damage.

You may be wondering: wouldn’t it be easier to pull the tooth?

Many people mistakenly think that primary teeth (baby teeth) aren’t important, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! Baby teeth are crucial for a child’s speech development, nutrition, and the proper alignment of adult teeth. It is always best to save a tooth with a root canal rather than extracting it.

When Is a Baby Root Canal Needed?

Before we answer this question, let’s talk about what teeth are made of. The outside of the tooth is called enamel and it’s the strongest substance in our bodies. Underneath the enamel is the dentin, which is softer and more vulnerable to decay.

The middle of the tooth is called the pulp chamber. Inside is the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Pulp is also inside passageways known as canals. These canals branch off from the pulp chamber into the root of the tooth.

If your child has a deep cavity or a damaged tooth, bacteria can enter the pulp chamber and cause an infection. This is when a baby root canal is needed. 

If the bacteria isn’t cleaned out, it can travel through the canals and out of the tips of the roots and reach the bone. If this happens, an abcess can form. An abcess is a painful swollen area that can cause serious damage to the tooth and the surrounding bone.

A baby root canal may be needed if:

  • There is a deep cavity that reaches the inner parts of the tooth
  • The tooth has been damaged due to trauma
  • There are signs of infection such as swelling, pain, or discoloration of the tooth
  • Your child is experiencing severe toothache or sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures

What Are the Steps of the Procedure?

The thought of a root canal may sound scary, but don’t worry! The procedure is done using dental sedation and local anesthesia, so your child won’t feel any pain. Here are the steps of a baby root canal:

  1. The dentist will take an x-ray to determine the extent of the damage and plan the procedure.
  2. The child will be given dental sedation to help them relax and feel more comfortable.
  3. Local anesthesia will be administered to numb the tooth and surrounding area.
  4. The dentist will create a small opening in the top of the tooth to access the pulp chamber and canals.
  5. Using special tools, the infected parts of the tooth and pulp will be removed.
  6. The pulp chamber is cleaned, and the infected portions are removed. A special medicine is placed on the remaining part of the tooth to prevent further infection.
  7. A stainless steel crown will be placed over the tooth to restore it to its normal size so that it can function the same as before.  The crown is important because it preserves the natural space so that the permanent tooth (adult tooth) has enough space to grow in.

Now that you understand the procedure details, you can assure your child that it’s not as scary as they may think!

How Can I Prepare My Child for the Appointment?

It’s normal for children to feel anxious about dental appointments. Here are some tips to help you and your child prepare:

  • Talk to your child about the procedure using simple and positive language.
  • Let them know that the dentist will make sure they don’t feel any pain during the procedure.
  • Read books or watch videos about baby root canals to help them understand what will happen.
  • Bring a comfort item such as a stuffed animal or blanket for your child to hold during the appointment.
  • After the procedure, praise your child and let them know how brave they were!

Now that we’ve answered the four questions from the outset, let’s talk about how you can prevent tooth decay and the need for a root canal in the first place.

5 Ways To Keep Little Smiles Healthy

  1. Limit sugary snacks and drinks, especially between meals.
  2. Encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  3. Make flossing a part of their daily routine.
  4. Visit the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.
  5. Ask your dentist about dental sealants, which can protect your child’s teeth from decay.

Check out these blogs for more tips!

Dental Tips For Parents of Young Kids

Strengthening Your Child’s Teeth With The Right Foods

Dental Sealants for Kids: Everything You Need to Know

Youth Dental: Your Kid-Friendly Dentist in Denver!

We hope this blog has answered your questions and calmed your fears about the baby root canal procedure.  If your child is experiencing tooth pain or you have any concerns about their oral health, don’t hesitate to contact us at Youth Dental. Our friendly and experienced team will provide exceptional care for your little one’s smile.

We strive to make dental care as affordable as possible, so we accept Medicaid at all of our locations: Denver, Hampden, Aurora and Thornton. To book an appointment at any of our locations, call (303) 953-8801 or complete the online booking form.

If you are searching for a ‘kids dentist near me’ or a ‘dentist for kids near me’, we can help. Trust Youth Dental with your family’s dental care needs.


What is the difference between a pulpotomy and a pulpectomy?

A pulpotomy is a procedure that removes the infected pulp from the crown of the tooth while leaving the healthy pulp in the root canals intact. A pulpectomy, on the other hand, involves removing all of the pulp from both the crown and root canals. This is typically done for more severe cases of infection or damage. Both procedures are often followed by a dental crown to protect the tooth.

What is the recovery process like after a baby root canal?

After the procedure, your child may experience some mild discomfort or sensitivity. This can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication and should subside within a few days. Your dentist will give you post-procedure instructions on how to care for your child’s tooth and what to watch out for. It is important to follow these instructions carefully for a smooth recovery.

Is there an alternative to stainless steel crowns?

Yes, there are alternative options such as porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, ceramic and zirconia crowns. These crowns are the same color as the natural teeth and may be more aesthetically pleasing. However, they are usually more expensive and may not be covered by insurance. It is best to discuss with your dentist which option is best for your child’s specific needs.

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