Can My Child Really Need a Root Canal?

It’s a scary thought, right?  But yes, even children as young as 2 years old could need a root canal — a fact that many unassuming parents find alarming.  In fact, even with all of the advances in the healthcare industry, oral healthcare is on the decline.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found a significant increase in the number of preschoolers with cavities.  An interview with dental professionals confirmed that they are seeing more preschoolers with 6 to 10 cavities than ever before, many of which require treatment under general anesthesia.

What’s more? ALL children are at risk – regardless of ethnicity or income level.

So what’s at the root of all these root canals?  Many parents are not even aware that a child’s first dentist visit should be around their 1st birthday.  And even those that are don’t quite understand the importance of beginning an at-home oral care routine early.  Let’s face it – at the end of a long day, the last thing parents want to deal with is a battle over brushing teeth.

But with childhood dental disease on the rise, it’s more important than ever to put your child’s dental care first.  Here are a few steps to take to prevent a root canal in children:

Take your child to visit the dentist around their 1st birthday – even if they only have a few teeth. Just because you can’t see the teeth, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Teeth actually begin to form in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy.
Brush the teeth of children 2 or younger with a tiny bit of fluoride 2x per day. Children don’t learn to spit until age 2.  At that point, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. 
Reduce snacking. Eating starchy or sugary foods causes the pH level in your mouth to drop sharply, resulting in an increase in acid for at least 20 minutes until saliva normalizes the pH. This frequent exposure deteriorates enamel. Practice good nutrition.
Do NOT share utensils with a child or clean a pacifier in your mouth. Parents with active tooth decay can pass cavity-causing bacteria via saliva.
When putting your baby to sleep with a bottle, only use tap water. Better yet, don’t leave a bottle in their crib at all. If sugars from juice or milk remain on a baby’s teeth for hours, they eat away at the enamel, creating a condition called bottle mouth (pocked or discolored front teeth).
Brush toddlers’ teeth for them. According to Dr. Tim Verwest, kids are not in a position to effectively brush their teeth until ages 7 or 9.


It’s never too early to start teaching your children good oral hygiene.  After all, good oral health is the beginning of good overall health.

But how do you get a 3-year-old to stand still long enough to learn to brush their teeth for 2 whole minutes (aka, an eternity to a toddler).

Give them a teaching tool disguised as a new toy.  A friend to share in the daily bedtime routine.

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