Pulpectomy Cost, Procedure & Recovery

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What Is a Pulpectomy?

Inside every tooth is the most inner layer, called the pulp, which contains the tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, connective tissues, and other cells. The pulp chamber is soft and sensitive and can become infected if the outer layers of the teeth — the enamel and dentin — are damaged.

A pulpectomy is a dental procedure that dentists use to remove the pulp from the crown and roots of a patient’s tooth. In many cases of severe decay, trauma, or infection, a pulpectomy is necessary to save a tooth.

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During a pulpectomy, the dentist will remove the entire pulp tissue so they can clean the crown and roots of the tooth and then fill it with a therapeutic filling material.

Pulpectomies are sometimes referred to as “baby root canals” in pediatric dentistry because dentists often perform them on children to treat infected primary teeth. A dentist may do a pulpectomy on a child to save a baby tooth that reserves space for a permanent tooth. Otherwise, premature loss of baby teeth can lead to problems with chewing, speech development, and shifting teeth.

What Is a Partial Pulpectomy?

A partial pulpectomy refers to a procedure in which the dentist only removes the damaged portion of the tooth’s pulp or all of the pulp in the upper chamber of the tooth. They do not touch the roots of the tooth.

Pulpectomy vs Pulpotomy vs Root Canal

A pulpectomy removes all of the pulp — from the crown to the roots — and cleans, disinfects, and fills the tooth. Pulpectomies can treat both primary and permanent teeth with dead or infected pulp and abscesses.

A pulpotomy, on the other hand, removes only the coronal pulp. Pulpotomies can only be completed on teeth that are still alive (they experience sensations, have vascular flow, and respond to changing temperatures). For a pulpotomy to be successful, there must be no abscesses. While they are usually done in baby teeth with pulp damage, they can also be done on adult teeth that are severely damaged or that have cavities that reach the pulp.

A root canal treatment is a bit more extensive. A root canal involves the same steps as a pulpectomy, but the tooth gets completely disinfected, the roots get sealed with a medicated filling, and then the tooth gets a permanent filling or crown to prevent bacteria from entering the canal. A pulpectomy is the first step of a root canal, but is usually used for quick pain relief, while a root canal is a more permanent dental treatment.

Pulpectomy Procedure Steps

During a pulpectomy, a dentist may follow these steps:

  1. The dentist will take X-rays of the tooth to look for any infection in the surrounding areas and determine the shape of the tooth’s root canal system.
  2. Prior to the procedure, the dentist will administer local anesthesia to get the tooth numb and avoid any discomfort during treatment. Some patients request a sedation like nitrous oxide or general anesthesia because they have dental anxiety. 
  3. The dentist will isolate the target tooth usually using a rubber dam or intraoral suction device.
  4. They’ll remove the decayed part of the tooth with dental handpieces and instruments.
  5. They’ll then use a spoon excavator and other dental instruments to remove the infected pulp from the tooth’s crown and root canal.
  6. After removing all of the pulp, the dentist will clean and disinfect the tooth.
  7. They’ll then fill the tooth with a biocompatible material.
  8. Finally, the dentist will finish the pulpectomy by placing a crown (for example, a stainless steel crown or a glass ionomer one) on the tooth to prevent further infections.

What to Expect After Treatment

It may take some time for the numbing effects of any local to wear off and you may experience some sensitivity around the treated tooth for a few days. You can expect to get back to chewing, eating, and talking normally immediately after a pulpectomy. For pain relief, you can take an over-the-counter medication and apply ice to the affected site.

However, if your tooth was severely infected, you may be given an antibiotic prescription to follow after the pulpectomy. You may need a followup appointment if you had a bad infection, as well.


Practice good dental care by brushing your teeth, flossing, and avoiding chewing on foods like hard candies that could crack your teeth.

How Much Does a Pulpectomy Cost?

Like every dental treatment, the cost of a pulpectomy will vary depending on a multitude of factors:

  • Whether or not you have dental insurance to help cover the cost (and your insurance plan details)
  • Who is performing the pulpectomy procedure (a dentist, an endodontist, a pediatric dentist, etc.)
  • How much imaging you need to have prior to the pulpectomy
  • Which tooth you need to be treated

Generally speaking, a pulpectomy will cost about $80 to $300 without insurance.

How long does a pulpotomy take?

Most of the time, a pulpotomy will only take under an hour. In some complicated cases, however, the procedure may take longer.

Is a pulpectomy painful?

While a pulpectomy may be painful for some patients, local anesthesia can numb the area so that you should not feel pain. Your dentist may also prescribe you pain medication and antibiotics to use after the procedure if your tooth was severely infected.

How can you avoid a pulpectomy?

If you need to have a pulpectomy, it’s best not to avoid getting it done. Neglecting dental treatment will only result in more dental problems and a potential loss of tooth.

You can try to prevent the need for a pulpectomy by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth, floss, and use mouthwash to keep your teeth and gum line healthier.

Can a pulpotomy be done in permanent teeth?

Yes, a pulpotomy can be done in permanent teeth. However, these procedures are usually done to save a child’s tooth.

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Resources

Adminteethbuddies. “Difference between Pulpotomy & Pulpectomy in Milpitas.” Teeth Buddies, 6 July 2018, www.teethbuddies.com/blog/difference-between-pulpotomy-pulpectomy-in-milpitas/

Ardeshna, Dr. Toral. TruCare Dentistry Roswell, 9 Jan. 2020, www.trucaredentistry.com/blog/quick-guide-to-pulpectomy-procedure/

McCann, Dr. Aaron. “Pulpotomy: Buffalo Endodontist: Pain-Free Root Canal Procedures.” Buffalo Endodontist | Root Canal Specialist, Precision Endodontics P.C., 5 Sept. 2019, precisionendodonticswny.com/procedures/pulpotomy/.

“Pulpotomy/Pulpectomy.” Pulpotomy/Pulpectomy - Clayton Pediatric Dentistry | Clayton NC, www.claytonkidsdentist.com/pulpotomy-pulpectomy

“What Is a Pulpectomy Procedure?” What Is a Pulpectomy Procedure? | Pediatric Dentist Fort Worth TX, www.fortworthchildrensdentistry.com/blog/what-is-a-pulpectomy-procedure.html

“What Is a Pulpotomy?” Ashburn Children's Dentistry, 20 Oct. 2017, www.kidzsmile.com/what-is-a-pulpotomy/

“What Is The Difference Between A Root Canal and A Pulpotomy?” Southfield Family Dental, www.southfieldsmile.com/blog/What-Is-The-Difference-Between-A-Root-Canal-and-A-Pulpotomy_AE109.html.

Updated on: October 20, 2020
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Erica Anand
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