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What is Pulp Therapy?

A tooth’s “pulp” is concealed from the naked eye. The pulp is located at the center of the tooth, and it’s made of tissue, nerves, and lots of blood vessels that help transport oxygen and nutrients. Pulp can be damaged in many ways. It is common in children, traumatic injury or tooth decay result in inflammation or painful pulp exposure.

Pediatric pulp therapy has some other names for which it is known, such as, pulpectomy, root canal, pulpotomy, and nerve treatment. The major aim of pulp therapy is to save, treat, and restore the affected tooth.

Pediatric dentists are responsible for performing pulp therapy on both permanent and primary teeth. Though the child eventually loses primary teeth, they are critical to proper chewing, speaking, and guiding proper spacing and alignment of permanent teeth.

What are the signs of infection and pulp injury?

Injured or inflamed pulp can cause excruciating pain. Even if the source of the pain is invisible, you will be convinced that the child needs to visit the pediatric dentist.

Some other signs to look for include:

  • Nighttime pain
  • Constant unexplained pain
  • Sensitivity to cold and hot food
  • Redness or swelling around the affected area
  • Unexpected mobility or looseness of the tooth concerned

When should a child undergo pulp therapy?

Every situation is different. The pediatric dentist takes an assessment of the child’s age, tooth position, and the child’s overall health before recommending an extraction or pulp therapy.

Here are some of the unwanted consequences of prematurely missing/extracted teeth:

  • Shortened arch length
  • When baby teeth are lost, there may be insufficient space for permanent teeth to erupt
  • There may be undesirable protrusion of opposing teeth
  • There may be painful impaction of Premolars
  • The tongue may posture abnormally
  • Remaining teeth may “move” to fill the gap

How is pulp therapy performed?

First, the pediatric dentist carries out visual assessment and evaluates X-rays of the affected parts. The location and amount of pulp damage determine the mode of treatment. Although there are lots of other treatments available out there, the pediatric pulpectomy and pulpotomy procedures seem to be the most popular.

Pulpotomy – id the pulp root has not been affected by decay or injury, the pediatric dentist may decide to only remove the affected pulp as well surrounding tooth decay, leaving the healthy part intact. The gap left is then packed with a biocompatible material which is effective at preventing infection and soothing the pulp root. Most of the time, the dentist places a crown on the tooth after treatment. This crown minimizes the risk of future fractures by strengthening tooth structure.

Pulpotomy treatment comes with so much versatility. It can be performed as an isolated treatment on growing permanent teeth and baby teeth, or as the first step of a root canal treatment.

Pulpectomy – in the event of a serious trauma or tooth decay, the entire pulp may be at risk. When this happens, the pulp must be removed, the root canals cleansed, and the area then filled with biocompatible material. This can be completed in several visits.

Generally, the dentist fills the primary teeth with a reabsorbable material, and permanent teeth are filled with a non-reabsorbable material. Either way, placing the crown on the tooth to strengthen or provide structural support is usually the final treatment step. A natural-colored covering can be used to disguise the crown, depending on the child’s preference.

For questions about the pediatric pulp therapy procedure, please get in touch with your pediatric dentist.

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