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Vital Pulpotomies for Children

Even though your teeth have a hard exterior coating, there is a soft internal area known as the pulp.  This area is located above the gumline, and  houses the nerves and blood vessels that provide nutrition and other support for your teeth.  Typically, a vital pulpotomy is used to remove infected portions of the pulp in order to prevent nerve and root damage.  In most cases, this procedure will remove less tissue than a root canal, and does not involve the roots.

A vital pulpotomy will relieve pain and sensitivity to heat and cold.  In addition, when pulp decay is arrested, it will prevent infections from developing in surrounding tissues.  At the same time, your child may not need to undergo the additional stresses associated with a root canal.

Pulpotomies: Why Procedure is Used

Even though a vital pulpotomy can be done for adults, it is usually used for children.  In particular, this procedure is used on primary (baby) teeth, as well as young adult teeth that have not finished maturing.  As long as the tooth is not loose, and there are no signs of gum infection, your dentist should be able to perform this procedure.

As you may be aware, early loss of primary teeth can affect the way permanent teeth develop and grow in.  Therefore, if your child has cavities that extend into the primary tooth pulp, the dentist may use a vital pulpotomy to prevent nerve and root death.  In addition, if young adult teeth break, or the pulp is exposed, a vital pulpotomy may be necessary to prevent infection that could extend to the gums and surrounding teeth.

Pulpotomies: Patient Concerns to be Addressed

Depending on the patient's tolerance for dental procedures, a vital pulpotomy can be done with local anesthesia, as well as sedation. Typically, nitrous oxide is used for sedation.  If your child tends to be nervous about dental procedures, sedation is most likely a more suitable option.

Pulpotomies: How the Procedure is Performed

As with several other dental procedures, the dentist may need to use a drill in order to reach the pulp area.  Typically, hand tools are used to scoop out the infected tissue.  Once the area is cleaned and medicated, your dentist will use a temporary filling to reseal the tooth.  In most cases, this will be left in place until a root canal is needed.

Pulpotomies: Post-Operative Concerns

Typically, a vital pulpotomy will save the tooth in question almost 95% of the time.  As long as the the nerve is not infected, the tooth and surrounding tissue will recover with a minimal amount of difficulty.  Unfortunately, if the root is just starting to become infected, it may not be possible to find out at the time of the procedure.  In these cases, a root canal may be required later on.

While most children do not have issues with vital pulpotomy procedures, the medications used can irritate the gum and other tissues.  This may create a burning sensation that should subside in a short period of time.  In most cases, over the counter pain relievers will be adequate for pain management. 

For the most part, this treatment is well tolerated.  That said, your child may experience some soreness and pain in the area where the vital pulpotomy was performed.   As with any surgical procedure, there is always a risk of infection or other complications. Therefore, if pain gets worse after the procedure, or you notice swelling, it is best to call your dentist, and make sure the issue gets resolved as quickly as possible.

Pulpotomies: Perils of Pulp Decay and Exposure

Today, many parents realize that they need to be concerned about primary teeth as much as permanent ones.  Unfortunately, if primary teeth develop cavities, or break from trauma, it can, and will affect your child's dental health for life.  In particular, if the pulp becomes infected, it can lead to abscesses, pain, and other serious problems.  A vital pulpotomy will ensure that infected tissue is removed before it causes problems.  This, in turn will help ensure that your child will enjoy healthy teeth and a beautiful smile for life.