Root canals aren’t as scary as they seem.

A root canal is often the only way to save a severely decayed tooth, making it an essential dental treatment. The procedure’s lingering reputation for being painful makes many adults afraid to receive it, so the idea of your child needing a root canal can cause your anxiety to go through the roof—especially since you’re likely to feel partially responsible for your child’s oral health.

Although root canals sound intimidating, modern anesthetics and technology have made the procedure itself completely painless, and there’s plenty we can do to make your child comfortable throughout the process, so you don’t have to worry too much. Severe decay does need to be handled quickly, however, so we have provided a guide to help you get out of panic mode and take steps toward getting your child’s oral health back on track.

Don’t panic. We’re here to help.

Tooth decay can happen to anyone, regardless of their age. Baby teeth might not be around for long, but they’re more vulnerable to decay because they have a thinner layer of protective enamel. We certainly understand that it can be difficult to convince your children to clean their teeth properly. So whether your child is a baby or a teenager, try not to panic; plenty of parents end up taking their kids to a pediatric dentist for a dental filling or root canal.

Additionally, panicking or showing anxiety over the procedure can worsen the situation by scaring your child, so the best way to keep your child calm, especially if they’re young, is to simply act calm. It’s important that you take the news in stride, act confident, and begin to develop a plan—and that’s where we come in. We specialize in baby root canal treatments and regularly perform the procedure on children of all ages, so we’re expertly equipped to help you through the entire process.

Set up a consultation.

Unless you just had a consultation about the root canal with Dr. Cooper or Dr. Day during your child’s last appointment, you should set up a consultation immediately. This will give you the opportunity to share your child’s medical history and an updated list of their medications, as well as ask all of your questions. You’ll discuss the severity of the tooth’s decay, treatment options, whether or not your child will need conscious sedation during the procedure, and what after-care will be like. Our office can also provide you with an estimated cost of your child’s treatment, as well as how much your insurance is likely to cover.

Schedule treatment right away.

The decay in your child’s tooth can worsen if it goes untreated, potentially developing into an infection or getting so severe that the tooth needs to be removed. This might not sound like a big deal for young children with baby teeth, but baby teeth play an essential role in the development of straight, healthy adult teeth, so getting a root canal in a timely manner is just as important for small children as it is for older children. The sooner you schedule their treatment, the better. While your child will experience soreness after their root canal, it’s usually easy to manage with ice and over-the-counter pain medications, so most school-age children should be able to attend school the next day.

We help the procedure go smoothly.

At Spinnaker, we have a range of tools available that can make your child’s root canal go smoothly, like any other painless dentist appointment. We use lasers to perform a root canal in children because they’re more precise than a drill and cause less bleeding, allowing Dr. Cooper or Dr. Day to precisely remove only the affected tissue. This advanced technique also eases the healing process, causing faster healing, less inflammation and pain, and decreasing the likelihood of complications like an infection since the lasers disinfect tissue as they cut.

We also offer oral or conscious sedation for children who may have trouble complying with dentists throughout the procedure; these methods of sedation, which include nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) or oral medications, are often paired with localized anesthetics to eliminate pain and relax your child while keeping them awake, so they can answer questions and follow directions. This can make all the difference in a baby root canal by making the procedure easier and less stressful for everyone involved—you, the dental staff, and, most importantly, your child. All forms of sedation do come with at least a little risk, however, especially for very young children, so it’s wise to discuss your child’s individual case and all of your options with Dr. Cooper or Dr. Day before reaching a final decision.

Additionally, our signature bedside manner makes all of your child’s trips to the dentist much more enjoyable—we love making dentistry fun for kids, even the bigger procedures. We like extracting laughs more than we like extracting teeth, so we’ll do our best to keep your child comfortable and give them a good laugh or two during their visit!

Talk to your dentist about oral health routines for kids.

While it can happen to anyone, teeth aren’t expendable, so it’s best to figure out what went wrong in your child’s routine, so you can prevent them from needing another root canal. Dr. Cooper or Dr. Day can give you advice about your child’s oral hygiene routine and give you a few ideas about how you can encourage your children to invest in their oral health. They can also point out a few habits your family can break or start together to improve everyone’s oral health, such as eating a balanced diet, sticking to fruits and vegetables during snack time, and ensuring the entire family goes to the dentist for an evaluation every six months. Sticking to a regular oral hygiene routine and making a few small changes like this can protect your child from future decay and can make a huge difference in your whole family’s oral health.

If your child needs a root canal, the best thing you can do for them is take action. Visit your pediatric dentist in Salem, Oregon, for a consultation, schedule your child’s root canal for as soon as possible, and commit yourself to making changes that will protect the future oral health of your entire family.