What is Pulp Therapy?

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.

Pediatric 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.

What are the signs of pulp injury and infection?

Inflamed or injured pulp is exceptionally painful.  Even if the source of the pain isn’t visible, it will quickly become obvious that the child needs to see the pediatric dentist.

Here are some of the other signs to look for:

  • Constant unexplained pain.
  • Nighttime pain.
  • Sensitivity to warm and cool food temperatures.
  • Swelling or redness around the affected tooth.
  • Unexpected looseness or mobility of the affected tooth.

When should a child undergo pulp therapy?

Every situation is unique.  The pediatric dentist assesses the age of the child, the positioning of the tooth, and the general health of the child before making a recommendation to extract the tooth or to save it via pulp therapy.

Some of the undesirable consequences of prematurely extracted/missing teeth are listed below:

  • Arch length may shorten.
  • In the case of primary tooth loss, permanent teeth may lack sufficient space to emerge.
  • Opposing teeth may grow in a protruding or undesirable way.
  • Premolars may become painfully impacted.
  • Remaining teeth may “move” to fill the gap.
  • The tongue may posture abnormally.

How is pulp therapy performed?

Initially, the pediatric 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.

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.

Pulpectomy - In the case of severe tooth decay or trauma, the entire tooth pulp (including the root canals) may be affected.  In these circumstances, the pediatric dentist must remove the pulp, cleanse the root canals, and then pack the area with biocompatible material.  This usually takes several office visits.

In general, reabsorbable material is used to fill primary teeth, and non-reabsorbable material is used to fill permanent teeth.  Either way, the final treatment step is to place a crown on the tooth to add strength and provide structural support.  The crown can be disguised with a natural-colored covering, if the child prefers.

If you have questions or concerns about the pediatric pulp therapy procedure, please contact your pediatric dentist.

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Testimonials

100% recommend this dentist! I am from out of town and was camping, and woke up with exploding pain in my jaw. Dr. Chisholm saw me on short notice on a Friday afternoon, did a thorough examination, and found out my problems were in my jaw, not in my teeth. He ground down an existing crown to make my bite even, And I experienced immediate relief. He could have charged an arm and a leg but was conscientious of my financial status and luckily didn’t even need to do x-rays. He recommended a chiropractic jaw adjustment, which I appreciate immensely. He’s very personable and it took time to sit and talk with me and make sure I understood everything. You will be in good hands with Dr. Chisholm!

Suzette S.

Great dentists. Worked well with my kids.

I had a crown. There were a few things that made it better than my last 3 crowns at 2 different dentists. First is that it was pain free. He did a good job at numbing. A few uncomfortable moments but no grip the chair in pain moments like I'd had with other crowns. The other was he used a dental dam. Kind of annoying for breathing and clamping on tooth not fun, but I have silver fillings and the dam prevented the silver (with mercury) from getting lodged in my mouth (one prior dentists i had to stop and fish a piece of filling from the back of my throat).

Cost is on par with other dentists I would have expected a bit cheaper due to the location but on par nonetheless.

Aaron S.

Very friendly and they do great work.

Jarom L.

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Contact Us. We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.