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Dental and Oral Health (Children)

Root canals and hereditary

08/23/2006

Question:

Someone I know, which is 4 years old, has to get 3 root canals. His mother told us that the doctor said it was hereditary. So my first question is if having to get root canals is hereditary? and my second question is if it is any bit normal to have 3 root canals when you are four years old.

Answer:

The roots of teeth, both permanent and primary (baby) are hollow, and they contain the nerves and blood vessels ("pulp tissue") which nourish the tooth and enable it feel heat, cold, and pain. The procedure popularly known as a "root canal" is simply the removal of this pulp tissue.  This procedure usually is done because of injury caused by decay.  These root canal treatments are very commonly performed in baby teeth that are badly decayed.  Certainly, dental decay is not hereditary, but there are rare hereditary conditions that affect the pulp tissue.    

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Response by:

Dennis J McTigue, DDS Dennis J McTigue, DDS
Professor of Pediatric Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University