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A pulp treatment on a primary tooth is called a pulpotomy, and is where the inflamed pulp chamber is cleaned out, and all the infected tissues removed before the area is sterilized and permanently sealed. The pulp chamber contains the pulp, which consists of nerves, connective tissues and the blood supply to the tooth.

This treatment is usually carried out on baby molars, but is sometimes performed on permanent teeth. You might hear it being referred to as a baby tooth root canal, but it’s really quite different from a traditional root canal and is a very common procedure for children.

When Is It Necessary to Have a Pulpotomy?

Young children are more prone towards developing cavities in their teeth, and sometimes the cavities can get quite deep, and may be pretty close to the pulp chamber which is right in the center of the tooth, or the cavity might even extend into the pulp. When this occurs the tissue in the pulp becomes irritated, inflamed and infected, causing toothache. If the tooth isn’t treated then it’s likely to develop into an abscess.

A pulpotomy is used to try to save and restore the tooth.

What Is the Process for a Pulpotomy?

First, our pediatric dentist will remove the decay in the tooth, exposing the pulp chamber in the center of the tooth. The pulp chamber is then cleaned out with special tools, and the area is sterilized. Next, the opening will be sealed up with putty like material that hardens after just a few minutes. If the pulpotomy has been carried out on a molar, then it’s usually necessary to place a crown on the tooth to completely restore it.

How Successful is a Pulpotomy Treatment?

Pulpotomies are a good way of saving a tooth, but will not work on a tooth that is already abscessed.  The anatomy of baby teeth means even a small cavity can be deep enough to reach the pulp, and decay can progress quite rapidly. A pulpotomy is a reliable procedure with few complications and can help save a badly decayed baby tooth.

Our pediatric dentists will always do their best to try to save baby teeth as it is important that they be shed naturally rather than lost too soon due to decay. This is because baby teeth help maintain the correct spaces for adult teeth to erupt normally, and if they have to be extracted early this can lead to the space closing up, resulting in the adult tooth emerging crooked or out of alignment.

Occasionally a pulpotomy may not be suitable for a badly decayed tooth, and your dentist might have no other choice but to extract it.