As an adult, you or someone you know have likely undergone root canal treatment. This is a procedure that treats internal tooth infections and salvages the tooth to avoid removal. However, what if your child requires the same treatment? Surely they don't have to undergo this painful procedure? Well, you're right. With children, there is an alternative available known as pulp therapy that aims to treat the internal infection and avoid the need for removal. This procedure can be carried out on milk or permanent teeth, and is typically classified into vital pulp treatment and non-vital pulp treatment.
What Is Vital Pulp Treatment?
Vital pulp treatment is a procedure that involves removing the entire pulp from the crown whilst leaving the roots in place. Typically, this treatment can't be carried out if your child is suffering from swelling around the gums. At present, there are four treatments that are suitable for young children:
- Protective Base - Used where the tooth is damaged by decay but the pulp is not damaged. This procedure involves removing the decay and providing a normal filling into the tooth.
- Direct Cap - Typically used where a small amount of pulp has become exposed. This exposed region of pulp is treated with medication that stops the area becoming infected.
- Indirect Cap - This procedure is necessary where the tooth decay is situated near the pulp but the pulp remains free from infection. Your child's dentist will remove all decay from the area and install a filling on top of the tooth to prevent the remaining pulp from becoming infected. This will also help the tooth when healing.
- Vital Pulpotomy - This procedure is used if the pulp within the tooth has become infected. To treat this, your child's dentist from our site like http://www.cretzmeyer.com will remove any signs of decay from around the tooth and then fill the inside of the hollowed tooth with a protective substance. The tooth is then sealed off with a crowd that protects the pulp against any further infection.
What is Non-vital Pulp Treatment?
If the pulp within your child's tooth has been damaged beyond repair, your dentist will likely propose non-vital pulp treatment as a suitable course of action.
Pulp treatment works by removing remaining pulp from within the tooth and then internally cleaning the 'shell' of the tooth. The hollowed tooth is then filled with a reactive substance that causes it to weaken and eventually fall out. Once the tooth has fallen out, the dentist will place a crown into the leftover space in order to prevent the gums and surrounding teeth from infection. This 'dummy' tooth can be modeled so that it blends in with your child's surrounding teeth, leaving them without any cosmetic problems.
When Should Your Child Undergo Pulp Treatment?
There are no hard and fast rules for this - every situation is unique. As such, your dentist will assess each child on a case-by-case basis and make a decision based on the following:
- The age and overall health of the child.
- The infected tooth and what type of tooth this is.
- The extent of any structural damage to the tooth.
- The estimated time until the tooth will likely fall out.
- Whether or not the gums and/or jawbone have become infected.
Usually, your dentist will aim to limit the extent of any pulp treatment due to the inherent complications involved. In every case, your dentist will only consider prematurely extracting the tooth due to the possible side effects that can arise.
As such, if you suspect that your child may be suffering from symptoms that demand pulp treatment, you should contact your local dentist immediately to understand what options are available.