Pulp Therapy

Dr. Kelly Jobe | Pediatric Dentist | St. Louis, MO

Pulp therapy for kids

All the nerves, blood vessels and tissue inside of our teeth is called pulp. Our pulp is vital to give our teeth the nutrients and oxygen they need to stay healthy. Pulp is especially important in young permanent teeth, because their immature roots need all the nutrients they can get for proper development.

When this pulp gets damaged, infected or inflamed, various pulp therapy procedures can be performed to save the dying tooth and relieve your child’s pain. Pulp therapy is also an excellent way to prevent a decayed tooth from needing a full extraction.

Pulp therapy is also called a baby root canal. It is just like a root canal, only more shallow and performed on primary (baby) teeth.

If your child has nerve damage and needs pulp therapy, they might experience:

  • Constant toothaches or pain in the mouth
  • Sensitivity to sweet foods
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Tenderness when touching the tooth

Keep in mind, a child’s pulp might still be diseased or decayed and not feel any symptoms. When you take your child in for regular checkups, we will take X-rays and check for any nerve damage.

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Is pulp therapy necessary?

If damaged pulp is left untreated, that can cause much bigger problems down the road such as:

  • The tooth needing extracted prematurely
  • The tooth falls out prematurely
  • Tooth decay can spread

If a baby tooth falls out prematurely, that could cause your child’s adult teeth to erupt in the wrong place or become crooked. If a tooth with diseased pulp needs extracted, more orthodontic treatments might be needed (like a space maintainer). In either case, baby teeth are still needed for proper chewing and speaking.

Most importantly – If your child has teeth with damaged pulp, they are probably in pain. Pulp therapy will not only save any diseased teeth, but also relieve any pain your child is likely experiencing. This is especially true if the pulp is exposed.

What causes pulp damage?

Pulp therapy can be needed when a tooth is deeply decayed, injured, inflamed or infected. This can happen if a child isn’t brushing properly, eating a nutritious diet, getting regular checkups, or receiving regular fluoride treatments.

Different types of pulp therapy

There are two types of pulp therapy for children: a pulpotomy and pulpectomy.

A pulpotomy removes only a portion of the pulp in order to preserve healthy pulp, and prevent tooth decay from spreading. 

A pulpectomy removes all diseased pulp, including the entire pulp chamber and roots.

For each procedure, we might use nitrous oxide as a light sedative, or general anesthesia.

Questions for Dr. Jobe or the Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry team?

Dr. Kelly Jobe and the team at Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry are committed to providing the best pediatric dental care in the greater St. Louis, MO area! Please contact us with any questions regarding your kid’s dental health, we are here to help!

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