As an adult, when you have a bad cavity, you get a root canal to retain your permanent tooth. But what happens if your child gets a bad cavity in one of their baby teeth? Depending on how severely the decay has damaged the tooth, they could need either a pulpotomy or a pulpectomy to rescue it from extraction. But is it really worthwhile to preserve a baby tooth? Keep reading to learn the difference between these procedures and why you should make every effort to save your child’s growing smile through pulp therapy.
Why Are Baby Teeth Worth Saving?
Perhaps at this point you are thinking that it may be simpler to just remove the baby tooth entirely. After all, it eventually falls out on its own, and a permanent tooth takes its place. However, primary teeth are essential for growing smiles and should stay in position until they are ready to come out naturally.
If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, not only does it leave a gap in your child’s smile and reduce their chewing ability, but it also can throw off the alignment of the permanent teeth beneath the gum surface. As a result, your child may require more intensive orthodontic care later on in life that could have been prevented or reduced by holding on to their baby teeth longer.
What Is a Pulpotomy?
In some cases, only a portion of the baby tooth’s center and nerves need to be removed, preserving as much of the natural tooth as possible. This less invasive procedure, where only the decayed structure and nerves above the gumline are taken away, allows your child to retain some feeling in the tooth and keep it until it is ready to come out later on in their development.
What Is a Pulpectomy?
A pulpectomy is basically a traditional root canal performed on a baby tooth that has suffered a deeper, more severe cavity. In this procedure, the entire pulp and nerve system of the tooth extending into the roots are removed in addition to the decay. Then, the chamber inside is sealed off, and the tooth is most often capped with a stainless steel dental crown to protect the remaining structure.
Regardless of the procedure your child needs, pulpotomy or pulpectomy, treatment for their decayed baby tooth can set them up for better success in the future when their permanent teeth come in. It is definitely worth considering to make sure they have a complete, strong smile early in life, not just when they are fully grown.
About the Practice
At Castle Rock Smiles, our team treats every patient as an individual, customizes care to their needs, and goes out of their way to make everyone comfortable. As board-certified pediatric dentists, Dr. Benzley and Dr. Hoffman have years of clinical experience and training specifically for children’s dental issues, which means they are experts at pulpotomies and pulpectomies. If your child has a cavity that needs to be treated, you can contact our Castle Rock office online or call 303-660-5373.