The inside of a tooth is filled with soft tissue known as the pulp. The pulp contains the nerves, blood vessels, connective tissues, and other cells needed to maintain a healthy tooth. Cavities or tooth trauma may damage the pulp. Pulp therapy aims to repair the damage and preserve any healthy pulp, so that your child’s primary tooth remains intact until it naturally falls out.
The Importance of Pulp
Pulp acts as an alarm system for a tooth. When a tooth begins to decay, the nerves in the pulp create a feeling of sensitivity and/or toothache in order to warn of potential harm. At first, the tooth may be come sensitive to cold, which may indicate the beginning of tooth decay. As the decay progresses, the pulp may become exposed and the tooth may become sensitive to heat and increase the sensitivity to cold. If the tooth is damaged due to trauma, the pulp may swell and ache, and may also become infected due to exposure to bacteria.
Types of Pulp Therapy
Pulp therapy is required to remove damaged pulp and restore the function of the tooth. There are two types of pulp therapy in pediatric dentistry: pulpotomy and pulpectomy.
A pulpotomy removes the portion of the pulp that is damaged or infected, and provides relief to the remaining pulp. After the damaged pulp is removed, the crown portion of the remaining tooth is cleaned and filled with a special medicated filling. A restorative crown is then placed on the tooth to protect it from further damage.
In cases of severe decay, trauma, or pulp infection, the entire pulp structure may need to be removed. A pulpectomy, commonly referred to as “baby root canal therapy,” will remove all pulp tissue and then clean the crown and root structure of the tooth. The cleaned structure is then filled with a therapeutic filling material. A restorative crown is then placed on the tooth to protect it from further damage.