Vital Pulp Therapy at Smile Center for Kids

What Is Vital Pulp Therapy (Pulpotomy)?

The goal of vital pulp therapy (also called pulpotomy) is to save healthy dental pulp in the root of a tooth that has decay in the crown. Vital pulp therapy is only recommended when there is no swelling or abscess around the tooth and it is not loose. We may also recommend it for an injured baby tooth to save it from early extraction.

The Pulpotomy Procedure

In this procedure, the dentist first numbs the area around the tooth, then drills into the top of the crown to expose the pulp chamber. The condition of the pulp will determine what happens next. If it shows signs of vitality, the pulpotomy will proceed as planned, and the dentist will remove the diseased pulp from the crown of the tooth and replace it with medicated material to preserve the healthy pulp tissue in the roots.

After a pulpotomy, the dentist seals the pulp chamber and restores the tooth’s outer appearance with a crown. However, if the pulp chamber is full of pus or empty and dry, the pulpotomy can’t continue and the dentist will instead perform a pulpectomy (similar to a root canal procedure) or extract the tooth.

The rationale behind this treatment is that pulp exposed to bacteria from a cavity has limited potential for recovery, but healthy pulp tissue is still capable of maintaining the vitality of the tooth once the infected pulp is gone.

The success of the procedure depends largely on properly diagnosing a tooth that is a good candidate for it. Symptoms of a tooth that is a good candidate include normal gum tissue around the tooth and that any tooth pain is only intermittent, temporary, or induced.

Why Do Vital Pulp Therapy Instead of Extract the Tooth?

Even though baby teeth are eventually replaced by permanent teeth, they serve several important functions. They help your child speak clearly. It’s difficult to make certain sounds with missing teeth (which is why kids with missing front teeth tend to lisp). They help them chew their food. They also hold the place for the incoming adult teeth, helping them come in where they should.

In some cases, we may determine that extraction is the better option, but vital pulp therapy will save a damaged tooth so that it can continue performing its important functions for as long as possible.

Why Not Place an Implant Instead of Trying to Save the Tooth?

Saving as much of the natural tooth as possible is always the better (and less costly) option. Dental implants are expensive and the recovery period is long. A pulpotomy procedure is less invasive and allows your child to keep their tooth. This is true of baby teeth that will later be replaced by permanent teeth, but it’s also true for permanent teeth. A natural tooth is better at doing everything a tooth does than a dental implant.

How Smile Center for Kids Can Help

If your child is experiencing tooth pain or has damaged a tooth in an accident, contact Smile Center For Kids right away. One of our experienced dentists will examine the tooth and determine whether vital pulp therapy is necessary to save it. Please give us a call at either our Sunland Park Drive location (915) 455-3400 or our Edgemere location (915) 455-3448.