A pulpotomy or pulpectomy is commonly referred to as a “baby root canal” because it is performed on primary or “baby” teeth, most often on molars. It is a procedure that extracts decayed pulp from inside a tooth, reshapes the canal (if it is a pulpectomy), and replaces it with strengthened filler. There are a number of reasons a pulp treatment may be necessary, including dental injuries, severe decay and infection, or inflammation in the tooth pulp.

What is tooth pulp?

Tooth pulp is the most important part of the tooth, and it serves functions like sensation, nutrient replenishing, and the formation of dentin. It is located in the middle of the tooth, protected by the first layer (enamel) and the second layer (dentin). The pulp is also known as the nerve, and is often the part of the tooth that requires attention when a patient is suffering from a toothache.

The pulp is made up of nerves and blood vessels that deliver nutrients to the teeth to keep them healthy, so it is imperative that it stays healthy. The pulp of a tooth can become damaged if the tooth is cracked or if a cavity becomes severe enough to penetrate the first two layers of the tooth. When left untreated, these problems can cause extensive damage to the tooth structure and infections that can easily spread throughout the face and body.

What is the difference between a pulpotomy and pulpectomy?

A pulpotomy and a pulpectomy are very similar, but they are not exactly the same thing. In a pulpotomy, the dentist only removes the pulp in the tooth’s crown, leaving the pulp in the roots. In a pulpectomy, the dentist removes all of the pulp and replaces the pulp in the roots with cement. In cases where only the top of the tooth is affected, a pulpotomy will often suffice. However, it is important to trust your child’s pediatric dentist’s evaluation of the situation. Cautionary action is necessary because this kind of tooth infection, if left untreated, can spread to other parts of the body and cause a lot of additional pain and damage. In many cases, it is better to perform the full pulpectomy to ensure that no infected pulp is left behind to decay and cause problems later.

Does my child need a pulpectomy?

Some patients and parents may wonder why it is necessary to perform a pulpotomy or pulpectomy on a primary tooth, as the patient will not keep the tooth into adulthood. While it is true that the patient will still lose the tooth in question eventually, it is important to address issues like infection in primary teeth because they can be very painful and can also cause lasting damage that spreads all the way down to the permanent tooth before it even comes in.

If your child requires a pulpotomy or a pulpectomy, our staff here at Epic Dentistry for Kids will ensure that they are comfortable and cared for throughout the procedure.