Pulp therapy is a dental procedure performed on a damaged or diseased tooth to prevent the tooth from being lost. The pulp of a tooth is made up of nerves, tissue, and blood vessels in the root canals and interior cavity of the tooth. This dental pulp provides the blood supply that carries oxygen and nutrients to the tooth, keeping it healthy and strong.
When a tooth is damaged by decay (dental caries), a traumatic injury, or other dental problems, the pulp can become exposed, causing pain and inflammation. The primary goal of pulp therapy is to restore and maintain the health and integrity of the affected tooth, allowing the root to remain in place and develop normally.
What are the Symptoms of Damaged Dental Pulp?
Undetected tooth decay or traumatic injury are the most common causes of pulp exposure, a condition which can cause severe dental pain. Once exposed, the pulp can quickly become infected with bacteria.
Signs of an injured or damaged pulp can include:
- Consistent, unexplained dental pain
- Nighttime tooth pain
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and/or cold temperatures
- Red, swollen gum tissue (gingiva) around the affected tooth
- Unexpected tooth loosening
If your child is experiencing these symptoms, he/she may have pulp damage. The certified pediatric dentists at Kids Dental offer pulp therapy in a kid-friendly atmosphere as a solution to alleviate the discomfort and save the damaged tooth.
How is Pulp Therapy Performed?
There are two common types of pulp therapy:
A pulpotomy is performed when the tip of the pulp is damaged, but the pulp root is still healthy. During a pulpotomy, the diseased pulp in the crown is removed and replaced with a biocompatible material to prevent bacteria growth (infection) and soothe the nerve of the tooth.
Once this is completed, a crown is placed over the remaining tooth to strengthen it and prevent future fractures. A pulpotomy may be utilized to save a damaged permanent tooth or to enable a baby tooth to stay in place until permanent tooth eruption occurs. Although they are eventually shed, keeping primary teeth in place is important as they act as placeholders for the eventual permanent teeth, aid in chewing and speaking, and contribute to jaw and muscle development.
Pulpectomy (root canal treatment)
When all the dental pulp (crown and root canals) is damaged or diseased, a pulpectomy can be performed to remove the entire pulp. During this type of pulp therapy, the pulp in the crown is removed, and the root canals are cleaned out and packed with biocompatible material. Unlike a traditional root canal procedure, the nerves are left intact. Later, a crown is placed on the tooth to support and strengthen it. Dental crowns are available in colors that can be matched to the patient’s natural teeth.
During any pulp therapy procedure, the area surrounding the affected tooth is numbed to ensure that the patient is comfortable. When necessary, dental sedation services are available for patients with dental anxiety or for patients who are very young or unable to cooperate during the length of the procedure.
If your child is exhibiting symptoms of pulp exposure, please contact the pediatric dental specialists at Kids Dental for an evaluation.