The “pulp” of a tooth cannot be seen with the naked eye. Pulp is found at the center of each tooth, and is comprised of nerves, tissue, and many blood vessels, which work to channel vital nutrients and oxygen. There are several ways in which pulp can be damaged. Most commonly in children, tooth decay or traumatic injury lead to painful pulp exposure and inflammation.
Pediatric pulp therapy is known by several other names, including: root canal, pulpotomy, pulpectomy, and nerve treatment. The primary goal of pulp therapy is to treat, restore, and save the affected tooth.
Children's dentists perform pulp therapy on both primary (baby) teeth and permanent teeth. Though primary teeth are eventually shed, they are needed for speech production, proper chewing, and to guide the proper alignment and spacing of permanent teeth.
How is pulp therapy performed?
Initially, the dentist will perform visual examinations and evaluate X-rays of the affected areas. The amount and location of pulp damage dictates the nature of the treatment. Although there are several other treatments available, the pediatric pulpotomy and pulpectomy procedures are among the most common performed.
Direct Pulp Cap - If the tooth is asymptomatic but decay is deep, a protective coating may be placed directly on an exposed pulp. This is a less invasive and less expensive procedure but has a great rate of success.
Pulpotomy - If the pulp root remains unaffected by injury or decay, meaning that the problem is isolated in the pulp tip, the pediatric dentist may leave the healthy part alone and only remove the affected pulp and surrounding tooth decay. The resulting gap is then filled with a biocompatible, therapeutic material, which prevents infection and soothes the pulp root. Most commonly, a crown is placed on the tooth after treatment. The crown strengthens the tooth structure, minimizing the risk of future fractures.
Pulpotomy treatment is extremely versatile. It can be performed as a standalone treatment on baby teeth and growing permanent teeth, or as the initial step in a full root canal treatment.
If you have questions or concerns about the pediatric pulp therapy procedure, please contact your children's dentist.