Root Canal in Pediatric Dentistry

When is a root canal necessary?

The pulp of a tooth is the inner, central core of the tooth. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue and reparative cells. When this area is infected or damaged, pulp therapy, or a root canal, is necessary.

The purpose of pulp therapy in Pediatric Dentistry is to maintain the vitality of the affected tooth (so the tooth is not lost).

Dental caries (cavities) and traumatic injury are the main reasons for the tooth to require this treatment. Pulp therapy is often referred to as a “nerve treatment”, “children’s root canal”, “pulpectomy” or “pulpotomy”.

Signs of tooth pulp damage 

The main symptom behind pulp damage is constant, unprovoked pain in the affected area. An infection can also travel down the root and infect other areas of the jaw. Untreated pulp inflammation or infection can cause severe pain or lead to an abscess.

Your child’s root canal procedure

An X-ray will usually be taken to assess the entire situation.

After a root canal has been decided as the appropriate action, an appointment will be scheduled to repair the pulp and tooth. The dentist will remove the infected pulp, disinfect and sterilize the area and apply a crown, or sealant, to the damaged tooth.

A local anesthetic is usually used to perform the procedure.

It is common to have minimal pain in the area for no more than two weeks. If pain persists, contact your pediatric dentist.

Common forms of pulp therapy in pediatric dentistry


A pulpotomy removes the diseased pulp tissue within the crown portion of the tooth. Next, an agent is placed to prevent bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue. This is followed by a final restoration (usually a stainless steel crown).


A pulpectomy is required when the entire pulp is involved (into the root canal(s) of the tooth). During this treatment, the diseased pulp tissue is completely removed from both the crown and root. The canals are cleansed, disinfected and, in the case of primary teeth, filled with a resorbable material. Then, a final restoration is placed. A permanent tooth would be filled with a non-resorbing material.

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