Pulp therapy is performed when a tooth's pulp is injured or infected. The main reason for the therapy is to preserve such a tooth's vitality, which reduces the risk of it falling off. In children, who are notorious for experiencing physical trauma to the face, pulp therapy is usually prescribed for teeth that have been injured to the extent that the damage has reached the central core.
Why Bother With Pulp Therapy for Baby Teeth
Many people assume that pulp therapy isn't necessary for kids who don't have their adult teeth yet, but this isn't the case. Baby teeth are important because they help the child to speak and eat. Also, they also preserve spaces for the adult teeth so that the latter can erupt in straight lines. Thus, it's advisable to do everything possible (including pulp therapy if necessary) to preserve the primary teeth.
Different Forms of Pulp Therapy
Pulp therapy can be performed in many different ways, but only two methods are commonly used. The location of the affected teeth and the extent of the damage determine which method your dentist uses. Here are the two common methods:
- Pulpotomy – this procedure is performed if only a small portion of the pulp is damaged. In such cases, the injury or infection is confined to a small part of the tooth. Pulpotomy involves removing the affected area so that the damage doesn't spread. After the damaged tissues are removed, a therapeutic material is used to fill the gap and prevent re-infection. Your child may also need a dental crown to cover the affected tooth after the treatment.
- Pulpectomy – this is an extensive procedure that the dentist will only resort to if the damage is so great that the entire pulp is affected. In this case, the entire pulp is removed, the gap is filled with a biocompatible material, and then the tooth is crowned.
Just like other dental procedures, pulp therapy has its fair share of potential complications. For example, the pulp may become re-infected and lead to tooth loss, excessive bleeding may occur, and pain may persist for some time after the procedure. However, most of these are things that dentists know how to manage to prevent serious consequences.
It's important to let the child's dentist decide whether or not to perform pulp therapy. This is because not every damaged tooth can be salvaged via this form of therapy. For example, if may not work on teeth with calcified root canals or excessive bleeding at the affected site.