What is a Pulpectomy

The term Pulpectomy is the technical term for the procedure colloquially known as a root canal. In actuality, a root canal is actually tooth structure, not a procedure. In the middle of every tooth, there is a hollow area that contains the softest tissue found in a tooth, known as the pulp. Pulp is found mostly in the crown of a tooth (the visible portion we see above the gum line), but there is also pulp located in the root canals that helps nourish nerves and tooth roots.

Sometimes, however, this pulp becomes infected due to a tooth fracture or a cavity that works its way down to the center of a tooth. If the pulp in the root canal becomes infected, the dentist will usually opt to perform a pulpectomy in order to avoid having to extract the tooth. This procedure is commonly done on the primary teeth of a child in order to prevent early primary tooth loss which can cause all sorts of bite and alignment problems if gaps form in a child’s smile.

There is more at stake here than tooth loss, however, as serious as that problem is. If infected pulp in a root canal is left untreated, it can infect the jawbone of a child and cause excruciating pain.

A sure sign that a child may need a pulpectomy is the formation of an abcess. An abcess is actually a pus pocket that forms out of infected pulp below the gum line. Parents need to seek medical treatment for their children immediately if they see and abcess in their child’s mouth.

An abcess will never go away on its own. This is because a nerve tissue, once it begins to deteriorate, cannot pass white blood cells to the infected pulp. Bacteria thrive and multiply in the hollow cavity left behind by degenerating tissue. This is what causes the visible pus pocket that swells under the gumline.

While it is rare, abscesses have been known to poison the blood and even cause fatality in some people. The only way to deal with such an infection is either through a complete tooth extraction, or through a pulpectomy. It is not a good idea to extract teeth from the mouth of a growing child. While primary teeth are by nature temporary, they need to remain in the mouth until permanent teeth form beneath them and push through to replace them.

Premature loss of primary teeth leaves a gap in the dental arch that causes permanent teeth to grow crookedly. Corrective treatments which are much more expensive than a pulpectomy will then have to be undertaken to compensate for the many alignment problems, overbite problems, and underbite problems that usually result.

The only alternative to pulpectomy is tooth extraction which although initially cheaper requires further implementation of a dental implant or a bridge. Extraction could also cause a shift in the surrounding teeth resulting in crooked teeth and eventually possible teeth loss.

The only alternative to pulpectomy is tooth extraction which although initially cheaper requires further implementation of a dental implant or a bridge. Extraction could also cause a shift in the surrounding teeth resulting in crooked teeth and eventually possible teeth loss.

What is the difference between Pulpectomy and Pulpotomy

A pulpectomy is a partial root canal. The word comes from pulp meaning the soft tissue containing the dental nerves inside a tooth and the word ending -ectomy meaning to cut out. The full meaning is to cut the pulp out of a tooth. The procedure is done in a dental office under local anaesthesia. An access is made into the tooth and the inside contents of the tooth are removed.

A pulpectomy is not a pulpotomy. The pulpotomy is restricted to the dental pulp located inside the dental crown and does not involve removing any tissue from the roots of the tooth. It is primary done with baby teeth or adult teeth which have not formed their root structures. The purpose with baby teeth is to allow the baby tooth to remain in place until it’s time to fall out.

When is a Pulpectomy Needed

A pulpectomy is usually done when a patient is having severe dental pain and is not able to afford proper treatment. It is sometimes done with an emergency dental patient is in a great deal of pain but there is no time available that day to do full dental treatment. Most patients initially experience pulpitis for some weeks or months before the pain gets severe. Of course, the best time to treat the problem is early when the discomfort is mild.

Pulpectomy Procedure

Pulpectomy is performed when there is a pulp exposure in a fully developed tooth. The procedure for pulpectomy consists of making a small hole in the tooth. From there the dead nerves blood vessels and debris are removed from each canal in the tooth. The root canals are then reshaped disinfected and filled with an inert material.

A patient that has had a pulpectomy has to later go back and have a proper root canal completed on the tooth involved. Failure to do the proper treatment can cause a lingering dental infection around the roots of the partially dead tooth.