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Signs Your Child May Need Pulpal Therapy or a Root Canal


Tooth decay is considered one of the most common infectious diseases in children. When left untreated, it eventually leads to painful pulp exposure and inflammation. Different procedures may be recommended to treat tooth decay, but the primary method for treating, restoring and saving affected teeth is pulp therapy –– also known as a root canal.

Your child may be doing everything right, including brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing once a day, but may still be suffering from tooth decay symptoms. Unless you’re constantly monitoring and supervising your children’s dental care habits, you may be surprised to learn the extent of tooth decay that your child may be suffering from. So, what should you look out for?

Here are a few signs that your child needs a root canal:

Knowing the Signs to Look Out For

There are different signs that both you and your child may recognize as indicative of tooth cavity problems. The most obvious is pain, which can range from intense and sharp to a dull, throbbing ache. The pain can change depending on the child’s posture, be more intense when triggered by some sort of stimulus or even happen spontaneously. The pain results from pulpitis or the inflammation of the dental pulp tissues. As a parent, you need to be aware of every small aspect of your child’s dental health and hygiene.

For instance, if your kid has been visibly showing or even mentioned having some level of sensitivity to cold or hot foods, you should take that seriously, as it could be a sign of an underlying tooth decay problem that may need pulp therapy. While tooth pain is one of the most common indicators of tooth decay, that alone cannot determine if your child needs a root canal. Other signs may include:

  • Gum tenderness and swelling
  • General discomfort, fever, and swollen lymph nodes
  • Unexpected mobility or looseness of the affected tooth
  • Bleeding or pus coming from the gums next to the affected tooth
  • A tooth that is visually darker than the tooth next to it

While every root canal case is different, knowing some of these common signs that your child needs a root canal is important. However, keep in mind that only a professional dentist can know for sure if your child needs a root canal. A visual examination, combined with a pediatric dental x-ray, will have to be done to ascertain if the procedure should be done or not.

Signs Your Dentist Can Recognize

Dentists are Checking Baby Teeth X-Ray

During regular dental check-ups, your dentist will look out for any tooth cavities and be able to recognize any signs of tooth decay. They are trained to spot teeth development problems early on.

Here are some of the signs your child may need a root canal that your dentist will recognize:

  • Darkening of the tooth
  • Signs of drainage from the infected tooth
  • Asymmetry of the tooth
  • Soft tissue changes in and around the affected gum area

During pediatric dental visits, you and your child will often be asked if you’re facing any particular issues of dental concern. If you’ve been noting some telling signs of tooth decay, share with the dentist. After doing their own analysis and checking for signs your child needs a root canal, you’ll be advised on the amount and location of the pulp damage, the nature of the treatment to be offered, and how the root canal treatment process works.


Parents are advised to embrace a culture of consulting their pediatric dentist every time they’re concerned about their kids’ oral health. Having the right information in your hands is vital as it helps you understand terms like what is pulpitis, and the safety measures taken when dentists perform root canal procedures for children.

To learn more about pulp therapy and the signs you should look out for in your child in Reno, don’t hesitate to talk to us at Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental. Call us at 775-909-4356. Our friendly staff will be happy to schedule an appointment for your child at any of our convenient locations.