Pulp Therapy

Charming little girl sitting in dental chair, smiling

Quality Pediatric Dental Care in Lynwood, VA

At Alderwood Children’s Dentistry, we believe every child deserves to grow up with a healthy, beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime. As a leading pediatric dentist serving patients throughout Lynnwood, Bothell, and the surrounding areas, we’re proud to offer a wide variety of pediatric dental treatments to help our patients achieve that goal. Our practice focuses on comprehensive, holistic care, working with each child individually to design a treatment plan that helps them achieve the best possible smile in the long-term. While we focus on preventive care, sometimes we need to perform restorative care to heal problems that do arise – and if the dental pulp of a tooth ever gets infected, we can treat it through pulp therapy.

What Is Pulp Therapy?

Pediatric pulp therapy is essentially the same process as a root canal, and it’s also commonly called a pulpectomy, pulpotomy, nerve therapy, or a root canal. It’s a treatment that allows us to save a tooth when the dental pulp at the center of the tooth becomes infected by bacteria. Dental pulp is soft, fleshy tissue that lies at the center of each tooth. While the pulp can’t be seen with the naked eye, it plays a vital role to dental health, bringing blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the tooth and carrying nerve sensations from the tooth back to the brain. 

Normally, dental pulp is covered by a layer of hard dentin and enamel that protects it from outside forces. However, if the pulp is exposed due to a cavity or crack in the tooth, bacteria can infiltrate and infect the pulp. This infection threatens the integrity of the tooth, and if left untreated, it can cause tooth loss and spread the infection to the underlying nerves and surrounding tissues. Through pulp therapy, we can treat the infection and save the tooth. 

How Do I Know if My Child Needs Pulp Therapy?

In some cases, a large cavity makes it clear that your child needs treatment – but not always. Sometimes, a dental pulp infection isn’t obvious by looking. That said, pulp infection is remarkably painful, and if the pulp does become infected, it’ll be clear that your child needs to see their pediatric dentist. Here are a few of the symptoms that suggest your child might need pulp therapy:

Excessive toothache or pain that doesn’t go awayNighttime painAn unexpectedly loose toothSwollen, red tissue around a toothExcessive sensitivity to heat, cold, or other sensations

The Pulp Therapy Procedure

If your Lynnwood pediatric dentist determines that your child has infected dental pulp, they may recommend a number of procedures, including pulp therapy. We can perform pulp therapy on both adult and baby teeth, and while baby teeth eventually fall out, it still might be ideal to save the tooth through pulp therapy as baby teeth play an important role in dental development. 

If your child does need pulp therapy, we’ll most likely recommend a pulpectomy or pulpotomy:

Pulpotomy: This procedure is used when the infection has only reached the tip of the dental pulp, leaving most of the tissue healthy. In this procedure, your dentist will remove infected tissue but leave the rest of the healthy tissue intact. Pulpectomy: For a more severe infection that has spread throughout the pulp, we may recommend a pulpectomy. This procedure involves removing dental pulp down to the root canals, then filling the tooth with a biocompatible material. 
Pulp therapy is a relatively simple, routine, and minor procedure. Your pediatric dentist can perform the procedure under only local anesthetic, but we also offer both mild sedatives and general anesthetic to keep your child comfortable during the procedure. While every case is different, pediatric root canals generally go as follows:

After administering the anesthetic, your pediatric dentist will carefully clear away infected or decayed tooth and pulp tissue. In a pulpotomy, your dentist will only remove the affected portion of the pulp, while in a pulpectomy, they will clear away the entire tooth root. Next, your dentist will clean the area with an antibiotic to remove any traces of bacteria.With the tooth cleaned, your dentist will fill the cavity left in the center of the tooth with a strong, biocompatible filler material. If we’re performing the procedure on an adult tooth, will use a permanent material. If we’re performing the procedure on a baby tooth, we’ll use a specially-formulated material that can be reabsorbed into the body.After filling the tooth, we’ll either place a filling or a full crown on the tooth to seal the area and leave the tooth strong.

Schedule a Consultation with Your Lynwood, VA Pediatric Dentist

While we strive to prevent infections from happening in the first place, if bacteria do reach the dental pulp, pulp therapy is an effective, convenient way to save the tooth and ensure proper dental development for your child. If you have more questions about the pediatric root canal process, feel free to reach out to us at our contact page. If your child is reporting strong tooth pain and you think they may benefit from pulp therapy, we encourage you to schedule a consultation using our easy online form. We look forward to hearing from you and helping your child develop the beautiful, healthy smile they deserve!