01/15/2013  |  
When Your Child Needs Dental Treatment

Dental treatments like root canals and tooth-colored bonding aren't just for adults. In fact, children sometimes require the same dental treatments that adults routinely get — though not always for the same reasons. For example, an adult may need a root canal to save a permanent tooth that's in danger of being lost due to trauma or extensive decay. But since a primary (baby) tooth will be shed anyway, why go to the same trouble for it?

One reason is that the primary teeth function as guides for the permanent teeth, which are forming beneath them. Saving a baby tooth now aids in maintaining proper tooth spacing, and may help prevent a future malocclusion (“mal” – bad; “occlusion” – bite) — which could require costly orthodontic treatment later. Likewise, the application of dental sealants — plastic coatings that fill in tiny pits and crevices in the teeth that are prone to cavities — can prevent decay from gaining a foothold in the mouth.

Minor fractures or chips in the teeth, whether they result from sports injuries or simple childhood exuberance, are often repairable with tooth-colored bonding materials. These can be used successfully on primary or permanent teeth and are nearly indistinguishable from natural teeth — so there's no reason to delay treatment. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dentistry and Oral Health for Children.”

Add a Comment

We welcome thoughtful comments from readers.