What is a Pulpotomy?
A pulpotomy is a procedure where part of the nerve (pulp) of the tooth is removed. It can be thought of as a partial root canal procedure. A pulpotomy in a primary tooth is often referred to as a “baby tooth root canal”. This procedure can usually save a baby tooth from being extracted. A severe cavity or injury to the tooth are the most common reasons a tooth may require a pulpotomy.
Helping your child to brush and floss daily is essential for keeping their teeth clean and healthy. Sometimes, however, your child may miss certain parts of their mouth, which can quickly lead to a buildup of cavity-causing plaque and bacteria. Or your child may suffer facial trauma as a result of a fall or other accident that causes damage to the teeth. Even if the tooth is a baby tooth, it still needs to be treated. Without treatment, a painful infection can develop inside. In the event of an infection, Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry can help with a pulpotomy.
The Importance of Baby Teeth
Many parents often believe that because the baby teeth are temporary, they are not important. This can lead to the belief that damaged teeth do not need to be treated. The truth, however, is that baby teeth play many important roles in little mouths.
What Is a Pulpotomy?
When your child suffers tooth decay or tooth damage, the affected tooth is put at risk for developing an infection. An infection occurs when bacteria invades the interior of the tooth and irritates the pulp. A pulpotomy is a treatment performed to treat an infected tooth where the damage affects only the crown of the tooth. This is slightly different than a pulpectomy, which is performed when the root is affected. A pulpectomy is designed to remove only the affected tissue in the crown while leaving the root intact.
Symptoms of an Infection
There are a few symptoms that can present in your child that can point toward an infection. These symptoms include:
Diagnosing the Infection
Before treating your child with a pulpotomy, we first need to diagnose the infection. This involves a thorough oral exam, during which we take a close look at their teeth and check for signs of damage and decay. We will also check their gum tissue for signs of an infection. We may also need to take digital x-rays, which will allow us to see the condition of the extent of the damage to the affected tooth.
How Is a Pulpotomy Performed?
Once the infection has been diagnosed, we can then move forward with the pulpotomy. This treatment is done under a local anesthetic. Sedation or general anesthesia may be required if your child is feeling anxious or afraid. A protective dam is placed around the tooth, which isolates the tooth and prevents bacteria from getting into the tooth while we perform the procedure. A small hole is drilled into the top of the tooth and specialized tools are used to remove the infected pulp.
Next, the area is disinfected, and a medicament is applied, which stops the bleeding of the remaining pulp. The crown is filled with a special material that helps to preserve the life of the remaining pulp and the root. Finally, the tooth is capped with a stainless-steel crown, which restores the strength of the treated tooth and protects is from new damage, enabling it to remain in place until it is ready to fall out and be replaced with an adult tooth.
With a pulpotomy, we can restore the oral health of your child, and keep their affected baby tooth in place until it is ready to come on its own. Call Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry at (503) 663-8141 for more information today!