What is tooth pulp?
The "pulp" in the teeth, invisible to the naked eye, is located at the center of the tooth and is composed of blood vessels, nerves and tissues. The purpose of the pulp is to channel nutrients and oxygen to the teeth. It's easy for the pulp to be damaged by tooth decay or injury, which can lead to exposure of the pulp.
Treatment for damaged dental pulp
When tooth pulp becomes damaged, restoration is needed to save the tooth. Because baby teeth are needed for proper chewing, speech development and to guide incoming adult teeth, pulp therapy is often performed on baby teeth as well as permanent teeth.
Pulp therapy is known by other names, such as pulpectomy, nerve treatment, pulpotomy and root canal.
How will I know my child needs pulp therapy?
Often the first sign of injured pulp is pain, especially at night. Sensitivity to hot or cold food or beverages, redness around the tooth and/or looseness of the affected tooth is also a symptom. If your child experiences sudden dental pain, please call our Tribeca pediatric dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
When should a tooth be pulled instead of undergoing pulp therapy?
While extraction of the tooth is an option, Dr. Dikansky will always strive to save your child's tooth. Prematurely extracted/missing teeth can cause poor tooth alignment, impaction of surrounding teeth, and abnormal tongue positioning.
How is pulp therapy performed?
After x-rays and visual examination are complete, Dr. Dikansky will decide whether the tooth needs a pulpotomy or pulpectomy. The decision is based on the condition of the pulp root. In a pulpotomy, the root is salvageable so only the tip of the root is removed. Once removal has taken place, the gap is filled with biocompatible material to prevent infection. It's most common that a crown is placed on the tooth after treatment to strengthen the tooth structure and minimize the risk of future pulp damage.
In cases of severe trauma or tooth decay, the entire pulp is removed, usually in several steps. The root canals are then cleaned and the dental area is packed with biocompatible material. In the final step, a crown is placed to add strength.