If your kids’ dentist has recently told you that your child needs a root canal or pulpotomy, your mind is probably racing. You are likely wondering if root canals and pulpotomies are safe and whether or not children really need them. You are also wondering if the procedure will be painful for your child and if it will cause any longer-term concerns.
These questions are natural when it comes to root canals, also referred to as pulpotomies. And the fact is, a pulpotomy is not an unusual procedure for children and is a common element of pediatric dentistry. That said, we have taken the liberty of outlining some important information that you should know, including what signs to be on the lookout for to determine if your child needs a pulpotomy.
What is a pulpotomy?
Let’s start by ensuring we all understand what a pulpotomy is. Similar to their bones, your child’s teeth are living structures. The interior tissue in a bone is the marrow. Teeth have live tissue inside them, referred to as pulp, which contains the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. Unfortunately, infections in other areas of the mouth can spread to the pulp of a tooth. Further, the pulp can become infected when a tooth is injured by some sort of dental trauma or tooth decay.
Treating these pulp infections is crucial to your child’s oral health. Your child’s tooth may need to be extracted if not treated promptly. The infection can move from the infected tooth to other areas of your child’s body, including their bloodstream or cardiovascular system.
Many dentists, including Dr. Jeffrey C. Jaynes, offer pulp therapy to eradicate infections while saving an infected tooth to prevent this from happening. In some cases, extractions are necessary, but you can avoid this with pulp therapy in many cases. Thus, not only does pulp therapy help to safeguard your child’s health, but it also puts a stop to a painful condition for your child.
A pulpotomy is a type of pulp therapy. Dr. Jaynes removes some of the pulp from the infected tooth and then adds an antibacterial solution to stop the infection and prevent further problems from occurring. The process is completed with a restoration, usually a dental crown, to seal and protect the tooth. Though pulp therapy is a bit invasive, it is usually the best way to save your child’s teeth from serious infections and is a better option than tooth extraction. Pulpotomies maintain the remaining tooth structure of your child’s baby tooth and help keep the gum tissues and supporting bones intact.
Signs that your child needs a pulpotomy
Pulpotomies are often needed when a cavity goes deep and gets too close to the pulp chamber. The cavity can cause irritation to the surrounding tissue, which can become inflamed. This inflammation and irritation commonly cause a toothache. When the deep cavity is not treated, it can lead to an abscess, which can be extremely painful for your child.
Be on the lookout for the following signs that your child may be in need of a root canal or pulpotomy.
- Swelling of the cheek or jaw area.
- Sudden pain in the area, especially when your child is sleeping at night or napping during the day.
- Tenderness when the area is touched.
- Sensitivity and discomfort when consuming hot or cold food and beverages.
What to expect from this procedure
A pulpotomy procedure is relatively straightforward. Your kids’ dentist will start by taking an X-ray of your child’s teeth to confirm the need for the pulpotomy. Then, they may prescribe an antibiotic for your child to take for a few days before the procedure, which your child will continue to take for several days afterward.
During your consultation with the dentist, it will be determined if your child will need any form of general anesthesia or sedation. In most cases, laughing gas, more formally known as nitrous oxide, will be used to make the procedure more comfortable for your child.
The pulpotomy procedure itself will go as follows:
- The dentist will numb the area with a local anesthetic, or if your child is placed under anesthesia, this will be administered to your child in the dentist’s chair.
- The dentist will make a small opening in your child’s dental enamel and dentin layers until the pulp has been reached. This empty space where the pulp was will be filled with special dental cement so that the space is completely sealed.
- A crown will be cemented onto your child’s existing tooth, creating a new outer surface.
Your child may feel a bit sleepy or nauseated after the procedure, and it is essential to note that this is normal. However, most kids bounce back quickly. The area may bleed and be numb for a few hours afterward, so avoid giving your child food too soon as they may wind up biting their inner cheek. Once your child regains sensation in their mouth, it is best to stick to soft foods and avoid anything crunchy.
Request an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey C. Jaynes if your child needs a pulpotomy.
If you believe that your child is in need of a pulpotomy and you live in or near the Plano, Texas, area, now is the time to request an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey C. Jaynes. We’re very experienced in pediatric dentistry and will ensure your child has a comfortable and pleasant experience in the dental chair. We look forward to seeing you and your child.