The Dentist From a Child' Point of View

How Pulpotomy Can Save Decayed Baby Teeth In Children

Tooth decay can strike at any age, and can be particularly painful and unpleasant for children. If your child is suffering from tooth decay in one of their baby teeth, it must be treated with the same care and attention as decay in a permanent tooth. If the baby tooth becomes badly infected, your child may develop a dangerous systemic infection, and their adult teeth may suffer associated problems in the future.

If your child is suffering from the symptoms of tooth decay and/or tooth infection, you should take them to a dentist specializing in children's dental care as soon as possible. In many cases, they will recommend that a pulpotomy is performed. A pulpotomy is a specialized dental procedure usually only performed on children and can save a decayed baby tooth without resorting to a full root canal or extraction. 

What Is A Pulpotomy?

When tooth decay creates a cavity in a tooth's enamel, it exposes the pulp and nerves within the tooth to bacterial infections, which can be very painful. In baby teeth, cavities are most likely to occur in the top, or 'crown', of a tooth, since the base and roots of the tooth are protected by gum tissue.

In many cases, a cavity in the crown of a tooth causes infection, but the infection does not reach the pulp and nerves in the roots of the tooth. In these situations, a pulpotomy can be performed to remove the infected pulp in the tooth's crown, and save the undamaged pulp.

During a pulpotomy, the infected tooth is first numbed using anesthetics. The dentist will then remove the infected pulp and nerves in the upper portion of the tooth while leaving the tissues inside the roots intact. Antiseptic medications are introduced into the tooth to kill any remaining bacteria and protect the root pulp and nerves from infection.

The empty space inside the tooth is then filled in the same way a filling would be applied to a cavity in an adult tooth. This filling is then topped with a crown made specially to fit baby teeth, which will protect the repaired tooth until it is eventually forced out by the adult tooth growing beneath it.

Why Are Pulpotomies Preferable To Root Canals?

Root canal procedures, more properly known as pulpectomies, are similar to pulpotomies. However, a root canal involves removing the entirety of the pulp and nerve tissue inside an infected tooth, including the tissues inside the roots. While this treatment is frequently the best way to save an adult tooth, pulpotomies are often the best choice for baby teeth.

Removing the root nerves in a baby tooth can affect the way the adult tooth beneath the baby tooth erupts. Performing an unnecessary pulpectomy can lead to future problems with tooth crowding and other orthodontic problems, which may require expensive treatment to correct. Keeping the root nerves intact with a pulpectomy gives your child the best chance to avoid future problems with their adult teeth.

Both pulpotomies and pulpectomies are painless while they are performed. However, pulpotomies generally cause less post-operative pain, because less of the sensitive nerve tissue is disturbed. Less post-operative pain will obviously benefit your child, especially if they are very young, and will make them less likely to avoid future dental procedures or suffer from dental anxiety.

If your child is suffering from the symptoms of tooth decay and/or tooth infection, you should take them to a dentist specializing in children's dental care as soon as possible. 

For more information, contact children's dental care specialists near you.