Dealing with injuries in children’s teeth is a little different than with grown adults; their incoming adult teeth have not fully come through and developed a strong, established root.

The apex, or tip of the root (way down/up in the gums), in a tooth that has not yet matured in a child’s mouth, has a far larger opening than a mature tooth. The reason why this opening is wider during the young stages is so that nutrients can more easily enter the tooth to help it develop strength and health as the child grows up. Compare it to an ice cream waffle cone, where the crown of the tooth is where the scoop of ice cream goes, and the apex is the pointy part at the bottom. If you were to bite a hole in the bottom of the cone, it would leave an opening… and ice cream would drip out.

Well, the anatomy of a tooth is similar. In a still-developing adult tooth, the hole is just much wider, and the walls of the root canal are thinner. As the child and his teeth mature, the apex opening grows smaller, the walls thicker, and the tooth becomes nice and sturdy.

If an injury were to occur to these young adult teeth, special care is needed if the health of the tooth is to be preserved to its full potential. One of two kinds of procedures may be needed: apexogenesis or apexification. I will cover these in future posts.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

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