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A pulpectomy is a dental procedure that involves removing the pulp from a tooth’s crown and roots. It can help prevent tooth removal in cases of severe decay, trauma, or infection.
The pulp is the soft inner layer of a tooth. It contains the tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The pulp chamber can become infected if the tooth enamel and dentin are damaged.
During a pulpectomy, a dentist removes the infected or diseased pulp and then fills the crown and roots with a therapeutic material.
Pulpectomies, pulpotomies, and root canals are similar but different procedures. They’re all safe, effective procedures that aim to save a severely damaged tooth.
Here’s how they compare:
Pulpectomies and pulpotomies treat infection, decay, or trauma that has reached the pulp of a tooth. However, the procedures and problems they treat are different.
|Procedure Steps:||Removes all the pulp from the crown to the roots||Removes only the coronal pulp (the pulp in the main chamber of the tooth above the gum line)|
|What it Treats:||Both primary and permanent teeth with dead or infected pulp and abscesses||Can only be completed on permanent or primary teeth that are still alive with no abscesses|
Pulpotomies are usually done in baby teeth with pulp damage. They can also be performed on adult teeth that are severely damaged or have cavities that reach the pulp.
Root canal treatment begins with a pulpectomy and then takes it a step further. The tooth will need a permanent filling or crown to prevent reinfection. It’s usually performed on a permanent tooth.
A root canal is a more extensive dental treatment that may require more than one visit to the dentist. They may apply a temporary crown after the first visit while the permanent one is being made.
|Procedure Type||Pulpectomy||Root Canal|
|Procedure Steps||Removes diseased pulp from a tooth, then cleans and disinfects the inner chamber before packing it with inert material the body reabsorbs||Begins with a pulpectomy, then the dentist covers the tooth with a permanent crown or filling|
|What it Treats||Adult and baby teeth||Typically only adult teeth|
|Number of Visits||One||Usually more than one|
Partial pulpectomy and pulp therapy are alternative names for a pulpotomy. It refers to a procedure in which the dentist only removes the damaged portion of the tooth’s pulp or the pulp in the upper chamber of the tooth. They don’t touch the tooth root.
A dentist might recommend a pulpectomy to treat the following:
Dentists often perform pulpectomies on children to treat primary teeth with dead (necrotic) pulp. For this reason, a pulpectomy is sometimes called a baby root canal in pediatric dentistry.
A pulpectomy can help save a baby tooth that reserves space for a permanent tooth. Otherwise, premature loss of a baby tooth can lead to:
A dentist may perform a pulpectomy on an adult tooth as the first step in a root canal procedure.
After removing the pulp and cleaning the inner chamber of the tooth, the dentist will finish the root canal with a permanent crown or filling.
During a pulpectomy procedure, a dentist may follow these steps:
After a pulpectomy procedure, there may be increased sensitivity and discomfort around the treated tooth. Your dentist may recommend pain medication.
You can resume chewing, eating, and everyday activities immediately after the numbness from the local anesthesia wears off. Avoid eating while your mouth is numb.
If your tooth is severely infected, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics. They’ll also likely want to monitor the treated tooth with follow-up X-rays every 6 months. The tooth will be more susceptible to fractures and discoloration.
Generally, a pulpectomy will cost about $80 to $300 without insurance. Like every dental treatment, the cost of a pulpectomy will vary depending on a multitude of factors:
You can try to prevent the need for a pulpectomy by practicing good oral hygiene and taking the following steps:
Most of the time, a pulpotomy will only take under an hour. In some complicated cases, however, the procedure will take longer.
While a pulpectomy may be painful for some patients, local anesthesia can numb the area so that you do not feel pain.
Your dentist may also prescribe pain medication and antibiotics after the procedure if your tooth is severely infected.
If you need a pulpectomy, it’s best not to avoid getting it done. Neglecting dental treatment will only result in more oral health problems and potential tooth loss.
Yes, a pulpotomy can be done in permanent teeth. However, these procedures are usually done to save a child’s tooth.
A pulpectomy procedure is done to save a severely damaged tooth from extraction. It’s usually done on a baby tooth with dead pulp from an injury, infection, or decay. It can also be done on a permanent tooth as part of a root canal.
Pulpectomies involve the complete removal of all dental pulp. Pulpotomies remove only the pulp above the gum line. Your dentist will examine your teeth to determine the best procedure for your needs.
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