When your child has tooth decay that has extended to the pulp of a tooth, Dr. Tiede or Dr. Mettenbrink may recommend a pulpotomy to treat it. A pulpotomy is a pediatric dental procedure that is similar to an adult root canal. Your child’s pediatric dentist in Missoula, MT removes the infected pulp from the crown of your child’s tooth while leaving the pulp in the root canal of the tooth intact.
Pulpitis is the Most Common Reason for a Pulpotomy
Children who complain of tooth pain when eating foods or drinking beverages that are hot or cold most likely have pulpitis. This term refers to inflammation of the pulp, and it is the primary cause of untreated cavities in children. Tooth sensitivity is often the first indication that your child has pulpitis or tooth decay.
Dr. Tiede or Dr. Mettenbrink would advise you to get a pulpotomy for your child if the tooth decay has reached the crown. This procedure can also be appropriate when your child has sustained trauma to the tooth.
If your child has irreversible pulpitis, one of our pediatric dentists will need to extract the primary tooth rather than perform a pulpotomy. Irreversible pulpitis means that the pulp in the tooth is severely damaged to the point it is no longer possible to save the tooth. A pulpectomy is another option, which is the complete removal of pulp from both the crown and root of a tooth.
Why Perform a Pulpotomy on a Primary Tooth?
Even when a child’s tooth has infected pulp, parents sometimes wonder why a pulpotomy is necessary when the tooth will fall out anyway. They may feel like the ideal solution is to remove the primary tooth that causes their child pain. However, retaining primary teeth until they fall out naturally is preferable because a child’s first set of teeth creates space for the permanent set of teeth to grow in properly.
A primary tooth removed prematurely may not leave enough space for a permanent tooth to replace it. When tooth extraction is the only solution left due to irreversible pulpitis, your child’s pediatric dentist will need to install a space maintainer to ensure adequate space for the permanent tooth to grow in over the next few years.
What Your Child Can Expect during a Pulpotomy
Your child’s pediatric dentist in Missoula, MT begins the procedure by numbing the area around the tooth requiring a pulpotomy with topical and local anesthetics. You also have the option for your child to receive a sedative.
Dr. Tiede or Dr. Mettenbrink removes decay from around the tooth to prevent contamination of the pulp. The next step is to drill through the dentin and enamel of the tooth to reach its chamber. If your child’s dentist finds the tooth chamber dry or filled with pus, the procedure will need to be changed to a pulpectomy or tooth extraction instead.
It is normal for your child’s mouth to bleed during and after a pulpotomy. We will monitor post-procedure bleeding and let you know how to handle it at home. Our dental team will also send home medication to treat any swelling and minor discomfort your child feels after the procedure. Lastly, you will receive guidance on what your child can eat and drink over the next few days as recovery from the pulpotomy continues.