As parents, it is only natural to want the very best for our children, and good oral health is in no way an exception. After all, all things being equal, children’s teeth are just as susceptible to cavities and decay as adult teeth. And this is not baseless hyperbole but rather a truism backed by several well-regarded studies, one of which was published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to researchers involved in the study, an estimated 42 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had dental caries, also known as cavities, in their primary teeth at one time or another. While we are on the topic, this is an opportune time to note that the prevalence of dental caries is markedly higher among African-American and Hispanic children, says the same study data from NIH. Fortunately, there are plenty of dental treatments that can improve oral health in young children. And one of those treatments is pulp therapy.
Dentists With Victory Plaza Dental Group Discuss Pulp Therapy in Children and When It Might Be Necessary
In some cases, dental fillings and other less invasive procedures are not enough to save a child’s severely damaged tooth. And this is where pulp therapy, also known as a root canal, pulpotomy, pulpectomy, or nerve treatment, comes into the picture. According to most pediatric dentist in Los Angeles, including those with Victory Plaza Dental Group, pulp therapy is encouraged for children who have sustained dental trauma that results in a tooth fracture or those with advanced decay affecting one or more teeth. Of course, there are always exceptions. For some children, traditional dental procedures, including extracting a severely damaged tooth, might make more sense than pulp treatment.
Children Dentist in North Hollywood Answer the Question of What Is Pulp in Teeth?
Before delving into what pulp treatment entails, let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with pulp and its role in human teeth. In short, the pulp is all of the tissue, nerves, and blood vessels that fill the interior cavity and root of each tooth. It is also worth noting that when children or adults develop dental caries severe enough to expose the pulp, it is around that same time when they start to experience toothaches. In some cases, resolving those toothaches will require removing some or all of the pulp from the affected tooth. For those who are not aware, although essential during initial growth and development, a tooth can survive without its pulp. Having provided a general overview of what pulp is and how it triggers toothaches when we develop cavities, let us now take a moment to learn a thing or two about pulp treatments.
Pediatric Dentist in Los Angeles Explain What Pulp Treatment Entails
Indeed, a root canal, pulpotomy, pulpectomy, pulp treatment, pulp therapy, and the like are all clinical terms that denote removing the pulp as a means of saving a tooth. However, each procedure is slightly different. Now, to understand the full extent of those differences, it helps to take a closer look at each of these tooth-saving procedures individually.
Unlike pulpotomy, pulpectomy, pulp treatment, and the like, root canals are more likely to be prescribed to adults instead of children. Performed when patients are under local anesthesia, a root canal entails a dentist or endodontist drilling through a patient’s tooth to gain access to the root canals and pulp chamber. Next, the practitioner uses specialized instruments to clean out the pulp chamber and root canals before using an antibacterial and antiseptic solution to clean and disinfect the canals. Of course, this is only the beginning of a much longer process. Undergoing a root canal also includes the following:
- Filling the tooth’s root canals and shaping them
- Filling the initial access hole drilled into the damaged tooth
- Prescribing antibiotics to the patient
- Covering the damaged tooth with a crown on the follow-up appointment with the patient
Rounding out the topic of root canals, it is worth noting that the success rate of this particular dental procedure is between 86 and 98 percent, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health. They are also performed quite frequently in the U.S. In fact, a separate study from the Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine (OHSU) revealed that some 15 million of these dental procedures are conducted in the U.S. every year
When it comes to saving a damaged tooth in children, a pulpotomy is one of the go-to procedures for most pediatric dentists in Los Angeles. The same generally applies relative to practitioners in other parts of the country as well. Unlike in a traditional root canal, whereby a dentist removes all of the pulp from a tooth, a pulpotomy involves removing only the infected or diseased portion of a tooth’s pulp. Next, the practitioner will treat the remaining portion of the pulp with medication, such as formocresol, ferric sulfate, or mineral trioxide aggregate, for example, to lower the risk of bacterial growth and infection. The final step of this particular form of pulp therapy in children will entail covering the damaged tooth with a crown.
A pulpectomy is yet another go-to dental procedure that many pediatric dentists routinely perform to save a severely damaged tooth in children. All in all, this dental procedure is not too dissimilar from a pulpotomy. The main difference is the entire pulp is removed from the damaged tooth. From there, the dental practitioner proceeds with many of the same processes associated with performing a pulpotomy, including prescribing antibiotics and covering the damaged tooth with a crown on the same or follow-up visit.
Pulp Therapy in Children: Children Dentist in North Hollywood Discuss When Such a Procedure Might Be the Best Treatment Option
The long and short of it is that pulp therapy might be worth considering if a child has a tooth or teeth that show signs of a pulp injury or infection. Some of these tell-tale signs, for example, include the following:
- The affected tooth becomes loose
- Gum inflammation around the affected tooth
- Chronic pain
- A tooth or teeth that have become unusually sensitive
Final Thoughts on Pulp Therapy in Children
In summary, parents should keep in mind that not every dental problem will require that their child undergo pulp therapy, but it is an option worth considering in some cases. That said, if your child is experiencing any of the symptoms detailed in this article, it would be best to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist sooner rather than later. During this appointment, you will be able to learn more about pulp therapy in children and whether or not such a procedure is right for your child based on the condition of their teeth.