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When the pulp of a tooth becomes infected, the typical treatment for permanent teeth is a root canal. However, if this infection occurs in a baby tooth, a pulpectomy is the best choice for saving the tooth. A pulpectomy involves removing the infected part of the tooth to relieve pain caused by the infection. This is done to prevent premature extraction of the tooth.
Each of your child’s teeth has a pulp, which is the living part of the tooth. This is true for baby teeth and adult teeth. The pulp contains the nerve endings and blood supply necessary to keep the teeth healthy and alive. The role of the pulp is to provide a sensory function for the tooth and to produce dentin; calcified tissue that supports and strengthens the tooth.
The most common reason for your child to undergo a pulpectomy is due to a dental cavity going untreated for too long. Sometimes decay can develop underneath a dental filling or a crown until the tooth’s pulp is damaged. Your child may complain of sensitivity to temperatures or a toothache.
Once your child’s mouth is numb, the infected pulp of the tooth is removed with special dental instruments, and the inside of the tooth is thoroughly disinfected. The canals of the tooth are then filled with medicated material to prevent further infections. Your child may have sensitivity in the area for a few days, but any discomfort should dissipate quickly and can be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers.
You may be wondering why we would go to all that trouble to remove a baby tooth that will eventually fall out anyway. The fact is those baby teeth serve many purposes in your child’s mouth and premature removal can have serious impacts. For example, losing baby teeth can cause speech and chewing difficulties. Additionally, the baby teeth affect the way the permanent teeth grow in. Losing baby teeth too soon can result in orthodontic crowding and misalignments.
In the end, the best way to avoid a pulpectomy for your child is to make sure you’re helping him or her practice good at-home dental hygiene. This means brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting Little Rockies Pediatric Dentistry every six months for a dental cleaning and a checkup here in our Parker, Colorado dental office!