A call to the dentist is the first thing parents think of when their child injures a tooth or has a toothache. The dentist may refer you to an endodontist after taking X-rays and discovering a problem. Dr. Emine Loxley, DDS, recently opened an additional office of Santa Rosa Endodontics in Ukiah and is currently taking appointments.
What are the reasons your child’s pediatric dentist refers you elsewhere?
Caring for and keeping natural teeth is an important goal for any dentist. An endodontist is a specialist in treating and restoring injuries and problems of the teeth. Your child may be referred to Dr. Loxley’s practice in an attempt to preserve the tooth and restore it to a healthy situation.
Certification as an endodontist requires two or more years of training after dental school. During that time, students learn to diagnose and treat pulpal problems in children and adults. If there is a loss of the nourishing pulp in a child’s tooth, Dr. Loxley can compensate by using a process called root induction.
Pulp is made of soft tissue, including an artery, vein, and nerve. It is located within the roots and under the top of each tooth. Nutrients are sent to the tooth to build and strengthen enamel. It also leads to the correct formation and strength of the roots.
You can help identify the problem by bringing notes about your child’s complaints and anything you’ve noticed regarding their dental health. Dr. Loxley will also ask your child about the location of the pain and when it occurs. Children often point or touch the area that hurts. All of these things help diagnose trauma or decay in primary and permanent teeth.
Pulp is damaged or destroyed by decay that results from infection and injury. A damaged primary tooth may be lost if not treated immediately. In addition, decay can spread to the lower permanent teeth, resulting in future trauma treatment when they appear.
Pediatric root canal therapy is more complicated than the same process on an adult. Dr. Emine Loxley’s experience and skill allows her to safely and carefully treat the immature teeth. Anesthetic is applied to reduce or mask the pain as she accesses and cleans the pulp chambers and canals. Medication is applied to eliminate bacteria, followed by a special filling in the root canals to help them mature.
This type of root induction is called apexogenisis. It is a vital type of pulp therapy that encourages the root’s apex, or tip, development while the pulp heals. Over time the walls thicken and growth eventually stops. As the root matures, the tooth has a better chance of development and being saved.
Teeth that are only partially developed may have an open apex, or tip, at the end of the root. A technique called apexification involves removing the unhealthy pulp and placing medication inside the root canals. A temporary filling seals them to create a hard tissue near the tip. This process requires return visits for additional medication. If the barrier does not form, surgery on the root or extracting the tooth may be required.
Making the decision about extraction, root canal therapy, or root induction should focus on the treatment that will deliver the least damage to the child’s permanent tooth. Maintain good dental health and regular checkups to assure the root and tooth are healthy and recovering as expected. Call the Ukiah SRE office of Dr. Loxley today at (707) 380-0088 to schedule your child’s root induction or for answers to your questions regarding the process.