my daughter had this done on a baby tooth. it's like a root canal because they have to go pretty much to the bottom of the tooth. she did fine with it. she called the novacaine a "tooth shot". she thought it went in the tooth and not the gums, but as long as she thought that she would let the dentist do the work.
Baby teeth sure do have roots and nerves. The reason they look like they don't when they fall out is because the permanent teeth "dissolve" the roots as they erupt under the baby teeth. A baby tooth with a bad cavity might need a "baby root canal". This is not nearly as involved or expensive as a root canal on a permanent tooth.
A root canal on a baby tooth is called a pulpotomy. The dead/dying pulp tissue is removed, similiar to what is done on an adult tooth. Baby teeth have roots and nerves like adult teeth.
A pulpotomy is most often recommend when:
When there is trauma to a tooth (falling and bumping the tooth, biting the wrong way on something hard,...)
When decay has reached the soft part of the tooth close to the nerve.
When fillings or other restorative work have been done on the tooth and the nerve begins to die or dies due to trauma from the dental procedure(s).
If a tooth begins to die for one or more of the reasons previously stated, there are 2 choices.
1. Have a pulpotomy and save the tooth.
2. Have the tooth extracted.
Extracting a baby tooth is usually only done when there is no other option left and/or the child will lose the tooth within a few months. Baby teeth preserve the space for the adult teeth to erupt properly. If the baby tooth is lost too early, the other teeth begin to shift and can interfere with the adult teeth erupting. Speach and chewing food properly can also become a problem if too many teeth are missing and/or have not erupted yet. If a baby tooth is lost too early, an appliance called a spacer is often cemented in place to keep the other teeth from shifting into the empty space.
my grandson had six or seven root canals or baby root canals around 3 or 4 yrs of age. My daughter was SO uptight about her love life and lack of income that it was just too much for her to brush his teeth for him. He'd come over my house in the mornings on occasion w/a bag of candy. It would make it easier on my daughter to just toss him some candy & drive him over.
I took him to a huge clinic loaded with kids. They had a big room full of dental chairs. Cost me around 3 thousand dollars since she hadn't gotten around to getting him assistance at that time. He has a spacer and at least one stainless crown; his porcelain crowns came off and his new teeth came in very nicely--thank God. They've never been really white but they're straight.
Sometimes he came out crying, sometimes sleeping; they gave him some sort of relaxant that isn't approved of by all pediatric dentists. Very sad experience and avoidable. My heart goes out to him. He's eight now.