Pulp therapy is another word for a root canal. This treatment is necessary when the interior of a tooth (called the pulp) is damaged by decay or injury.
Dental pulp is the tissue inside the tooth that connects the tooth to the root system. It includes tissue, nerves, and blood vessels that work together to keep the tooth alive. Pulp therapy ensures that the tooth will not fully die or need to be removed.
There are a few reasons why your child might need pulp therapy. These include:
- Injury (severely cracked or broken teeth)
- Extensive decay or infection
Signs of Damaged Dental Pulp
Damaged dental pulp will be painful. It can be hard to tell if your child is suffering from damaged dental pulp, a cavity, or a different oral health problem altogether. It’s best to get a dentist to look at the painful area, as only a dentist can diagnose these issues.
As a parent, it can be helpful to have an idea of what might be wrong before you schedule an appointment. Here are some signs of damaged pulp you can look out for:
- Swollen or sensitive gums
- Sensitivity to heat or cold
- Difficulty sleeping due to pain
If your child has dental pain or has recently sustained an injury to the mouth, you should see the dentist as soon as possible. Quick treatment can make the difference between saving the tooth and needing to remove and replace it.
Pediatric vs. Adult Pulp Therapy
The process of pulp therapy is pretty much the same for both children and adults. The damaged or infected pulp is removed and the space is filled. Root canals are safe to do on children, and can be performed on both baby teeth and adult teeth.
Why Save Baby Teeth?
You may be wondering why a root canal or pulp therapy is necessary for baby teeth, which will fall out eventually, anyway. There are a few reasons it’s still a good idea to protect baby teeth in this way.
First, when teeth fall out too early, it can cause problems with the development of your child’s mouth. Permanent teeth may grow in oddly or in the wrong spot. This is why it’s always best to try to save the tooth in question, rather than letting it die and fall out.
Additionally, an infection won’t go away just because a baby tooth falls out. Without treatment, the infection can spread, moving through the blood vessels in the pulp into the rest of the mouth.
Root canals are necessary to protect not just the tooth on which they are performed, but also to protect the surrounding teeth and your child’s overall health.
What Happens During Pulp Therapy?
The basics of pulp therapy are simple:
- The dentist removes infected or damaged pulp
- The tooth is cleaned and sterilized
- The dentist fills the area with a material that can act as the pulp
- Sometimes a crown is placed on top of the tooth to protect it from further damage
Types of Pulp Therapy
There are two different types of pulp therapy: a pulpotomy and a pulpectomy.
A pulpotomy is for pulp that is only partially infected and has not reached the tooth root. Only the infected pulp is removed.
In a pulpectomy, all the pulp must be removed, because the infection has reached the entire tooth. Pulpectomies are less common for baby teeth.
Sedation for Pulp Therapy
In any pulp therapy, the dentist will use a numbing agent to prevent any pain. For children who are nervous, or who have trouble sitting still, we can offer you laughing gas or oral sedation option to help your child relax during the procedure.
Call McKinney Pediatric Dentistry Today to Make an Appointment!
At McKinney Pediatric Dentistry, your child’s health is our top priority. Whether you need a standard cleaning or a procedure like pulp therapy, we are here to ensure your child is healthy and happy.