Under the hard outer layer of a tooth is a soft, gel-like substance called “Dental Pulp.” This contains nerves as well blood vessels and connective tissues. Deep cavities and trauma to the dental pulp can cause severe tooth pain, temperature sensitivity, swelling, and redness. If the pulp is not treated, it can spread to the surrounding tissues. For damaged pulp-infected teeth, pediatric pulp therapy (also known as “nerve treatment” or “baby root canal”) is often an option.
Your child’s dentist may recommend pediatric pulp therapy (or baby root canal) to repair damaged pulp. A pediatric pulp therapy procedure is available for both primary and immature teeth. It can take the forms of a pulpectomy and a pulpotomy. The severity of damage to the pulp determines the best treatment.
A pulpotomy, also known as “vital-pulp therapy”, may be an option if the dental pulp has not healed but is still inflamed. Pulpotomy is a procedure that removes the pulp from the tooth’s crown, which is the part of the tooth located above the gum line.
A pulpectomy may be performed if the dental pulp is inoperable or already dead. A pulpectomy is a procedure that removes both the tooth’s crown and root (the area below the gum line).
In either case, the tooth will need to be removed from the dental pulp and then filled with disinfectant.
A baby tooth’s dental pulp that is damaged must be treated. You may experience severe pain and sensitivity. The infection can spread and cause impairment to your child’s overall wellbeing.
Baby teeth are likely to lose anyway so why would you perform a dental root canal on a baby tooth instead of simply pulling it? Primary teeth play an extremely important role in a child’s life. Primary teeth are essential for children’s ability to communicate clearly with their parents and allow them to properly erupt permanent teeth. It is preferable to save the pulp of a primary tooth that has been damaged using pulp therapy instead of removing it.
Tooth decay and dental trauma can cause damage to the dental pulp.
When participating in any athletic activity (including non-contact ones like gymnastics), you can help your child protect their teeth from sports-related damage.
Keep your child’s teeth clean and flossed every day. You should also bring them to their pediatric dentist for cleanings as well as exams. As an extra way to protect your child’s teeth, discuss with your pediatric dentist whether oral sealants should also be used.