Pulpotomy: Does Your Child Need a Baby Root Canal?

If your child has a cavity in a baby tooth, it needs immediate treatment to alleviate the pain and save the tooth. Losing a baby tooth too soon can lead to problems with the adult teeth and jawbone structures. When baby teeth are diseased, the infection can spread to the jawbone and permanent teeth below the gum line. If your child has a severe cavity in a baby tooth, the best treatment is a pulpotomy, often referred to as a baby root canal.

What is a Pulpotomy?

A pulpotomy is a root canal performed on a child with severe dental caries that has exposed or infected the pulp in the tooth’s center. During a pulpotomy, the damaged pulp is carefully removed from the tooth, and the area is cleaned. An antibacterial solution is applied to deter infection; then, a crown is placed over the top of the tooth to protect the interior and any remaining blood vessels and nerves. Unlike an adult root canal, the roots are usually left intact to preserve the tooth’s function.

Signs Your Child May Need a Baby Root Canal

A pulpotomy is needed if your child has a baby tooth that is decayed or infected. Without a pulpotomy, the decay or infection can spread to the roots of the tooth and the surrounding jawbone and soft tissues. Symptoms your child may have an infected tooth that requires a baby root canal include:

  • Pain and swelling in the jaw or cheek areas
  • Pain in the face or jaw that gets worse at night
  • Tenderness when the gums or cheek are touched
  • Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold when eating or drinking
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Any infection, decay, or damage to a tooth

Pulpotomy Procedure

At Celebration Pediatric Dentistry, we have performed many pulpotomies and are adept at putting children at ease during the procedure. We make your child comfortable and explain the process in a way they will understand before numbing the area. One of our doctors will gently remove any tooth decay or infection, then drill through the enamel to reach the pulp. The pulp in the upper portion of the tooth is removed, the area cleaned, and an antibacterial applied to protect the remaining pulp in the tooth’s root. Finally, a crown is placed to preserve and protect the tooth and allow the roots to continue developing. The process usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes.

How to Prepare Your Child for a Pulpotomy

Your child may already be familiar with our office, the doctors, and the staff. If you are a new patient, please contact our office. We will be happy to give your child a tour of the facility so they are in familiar surroundings on the day of their baby root canal.

In the days before the pulpotomy, explain the procedure and reassure your child that it is not a lengthy treatment. Let them know a local anesthesia will numb the area so they do not feel any pain during treatment. If unusual noises bother them, explain that a drill may be used. Explain that it cannot hurt them and will help alleviate the pain from the cavity or infection already present.

Let us know if your child would like to bring a small stuffed animal or a favorite toy to their appointment. Having the comfort of a cherished possession can help calm their nerves. While a pulpotomy can be performed with local anesthesia, our doctors are experienced in various forms of dental sedation for children who have dental anxiety or have had a bad dental experience in the past. As always, our goal is to improve your child’s oral health in a way that is as painless and stress-free as possible – for you AND your child!