Will Your Children Need Pulp Therapy? A Guide for Parents

Just what is pulp?

“Pulp” refers to the nerves, tissue and blood vessels in the center of each of our teeth. When these delicate tissues get damaged by decay, infection, or trauma, painful symptoms appear. The most commonly reported issues include:

When the pulp of permanent teeth is damaged, root canals are necessary. However, when these issues occur in primary (baby) teeth, pulp therapy is a more likely solution.

Pulp Therapy

Parents may be wondering why surgery is necessary for infected or damaged baby teeth. Can’t the teeth just be removed?

Unfortunately, surgical removal of baby teeth isn’t usually a good idea. Removing baby teeth before permanent teeth are ready to come in creates space management issues in the gums. Emerging teeth shift to places they aren’t supposed to be, which can lead to serious dental problems down the line. Pulp therapy is usually preferred over tooth removal to help make sure that permanent teeth come in where they should.

The two most common forms of pulp therapy are the pulpotomy and pulpectomy.


A pulpotomy is the milder of the two therapies, involving removal of damaged pulp tissue from the crown part of the tooth. Anti-bacterial agents are added to protect the tooth from infection, and then the tooth is capped with an artificial crown to seal and protect it from further damage.


Pulpectomies are more involved than pulpotomies. Pulpectomies are necessary when deep pulp damage has occurred, including the entire pulp and root canals below the tooth. This treatment removes all damaged pulp tissue from the crown and root. After, the root canals are scrubbed clean and disinfected. Primary teeth are then filled with a resorbable material that naturally breaks down on its own.

The Importance of Regular Checkups

So, will your child need pulp therapy as they grow up?

In most cases, the answer is no. The two most common problems that create a need for pulp therapy are dental cavities and traumatic injury. Injuries can’t always be avoided, but staying on top of your child’s dental hygiene regimen will help prevent the formation of cavities. Although cavities alone don’t require pulp therapy, they increase the risk of infection and more severe problems that do require surgical correction.


Above all, preventative care through regular dental checkups is the best way to prevent the need for pulp therapy. Much like root canals, pulp therapy can be avoided by regular brushing, flossing, and staying one step ahead of problems before they occur.

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