The pulp of a tooth is found in the center of your teeth and is made up of nerves, blood vessels, and tissue. There are many ways that the pulp can be infected or damaged on a tooth such as tooth decay, or a traumatic injury. These can lead to very painful exposure or inflammation of the tooth.
There are other names for pulpal therapy which can include root canal, pulpectomy, pulpotomy, and nerve treatment. The main purpose of any pulpal therapy is to restore and hopefully save the injured tooth. Dentists will often perform therapy on both baby teeth and adult teeth. Baby teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth at some point, but they are necessary for speech, proper chewing, and to help guide the appropriate spacing and alignment of your permanent teeth.
The injured or inflamed pulp is very painful. Other symptoms to watch for are nighttime pain, hot and cold food sensitivities, redness and swelling around the tooth, or looseness or movement of the injured tooth.
When starting to get pulpal therapy, your dentist will first look in your child’s mouth and then look over the x-rays of the affected area. The location and amount of pulp damage will decide what kind of treatment will be taken. There are several treatment types available.
Pulpotomy: If the root’s pulp is unaffected by the injury or the decay, then that means the problem is solely in the pulp tip, and the dentist might leave the healthy part and take out only the affected pulp and any tooth decay. The gap is then filled with a special material that prevents any infection and helps to sooth the pulp root. A crown may be placed after treatment.
Pulpectomy: When the tooth decay or trauma is severe, the entire pulp (which includes the root canal) might be affected. Then the dentist has to take out the pulp and do a cleansing on the root canals, then pack up the area with special material. This may take several office visits.
Having injured or infected pulp can be extremely painful, and usually, this pain won’t go away by itself, so it is important to get treatment as soon as you can.