What is A Pulpotomy?
A pulpotomy, also known as a baby root canal, is a procedure performed on an infected primary tooth. It is a restorative procedure that can prolong the life of the tooth until it is ready to be naturally shed to make room for the permanent tooth.
If your child has a toothache, they may need a pulpotomy. Learn what a pulpotomy is and why it is important for your child’s oral health.
Pulpotomy: What it is and Why it is Necessary
At the center of each tooth, contained inside the root canal, is the dental pulp. This soft tissue contains blood vessels and nerves that sustain the tooth and keep it healthy. If bacteria invades the root canal through a deep cavity or crack in the tooth, it can infect the dental pulp, resulting in a painful toothache.
A pulpotomy is a procedure used to treat the infection. Through a small hole made in the crown of the tooth the infected pulp is removed and an antibiotic dressing is placed in the root canal to protect the remaining pulp from infection. The hole in the tooth is filled and sealed off for protection.
Is it Worth Saving a Baby Tooth?
Parents often wonder why it is necessary to perform a pulpotomy on a baby tooth rather than extract it. The reason a pulpotomy is beneficial is that it saves the tooth and allows it to remain in place until it is ready to fall out on its own. Baby teeth are important placeholders for the permanent teeth. When they fall out or are extracted early, the other teeth can shift into the gap and block the permanent tooth from coming in. A pulpotomy can prevent the need for a space maintainer.
Pulpotomy vs Root Canal
There are a few differences between a pulpotomy and root canal. When a tooth gets a root canal, all of the dental pulp is removed, not just the infection portion. A root canal also includes a filler material that completely replaces the dental pulp. Root canals are typically only performed on permanent teeth, whereas pulpotomies are performed on primary teeth.
Anesthesia Required for a Pulpotomy
Local anesthesia is normally sufficient to prevent any discomfort during a pulpotomy. Children who are anxious, fearful, or have difficulty sitting still for longer periods of time can benefit from nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide provides a light level of sedation that can help children relax and feel more calm during the procedure. It wears off immediately afterwards so that they can resume their regular daily activities.
Who Performs Pulpotomies?
A pulpotomy is primarily performed by an endodontist, a dentist who specializes in treating the dental pulp inside the teeth. Heart of Texas Endodontics provides services for patients of all ages, including pulpotomies for children.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pulpotomies
What is recovery like after a pulpotomy?
A pulpotomy is very similar to a cavity filling in terms of recovery. It may take a few hours for the local anesthesia to wear off, but after that your child will most likely feel fine. If they experience any discomfort, over the counter pain medication should be sufficient. A diet of liquids and soft foods may be helpful for the first 24-48 hours.
How long will a pulpotomy last?
In most cases a pulpotomy will last long enough for the tooth to remain healthy until it falls out naturally. The permanent tooth will eventually push it out of place when it is ready to come in and most of the time that happens before any additional treatment is needed.