Pulpectomy is a procedure to remove all the pulp from the crown and roots of a tooth. Pulp is the soft inner material that contains connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. Pulpectomy is usually performed in children to save a severely infected baby (primary) tooth, and is sometimes called a “baby root canal.” In permanent teeth, pulpectomy is the first part of the root canal procedure.
Pulpectomy Vs Root-Canal
A pulpectomy is complete removal of pulp from the crown and roots. The tooth is then filled with material that can be reabsorbed by the body. It’s usually performed on baby teeth.
A root-canal starts with a pulpectomy, but the tooth gets a permanent filling or crown. It’s usually performed on permanent teeth.
Pulpectomy can be performed in one visit with these basic steps:
- X-rays are taken to look for signs of infection in surrounding areas and to get a look at the shape of the root canals.
- A local anaesthetic is used to numb the area.
- A hole is drilled into the tooth.
- Small dental instruments are used to remove all the pulp.
- The tooth is cleaned, disinfected, and prepared for filling.
- The tooth is filled with reabsorbable material.
A root canal usually requires more than one visit to the clinic. Once the pulp is removed, as in a pulpectomy, the entire root canal system is cleaned, shaped, and filled and sealed. You’ll likely be sent home with a temporary crown, and then asked to return for permanent filling and a permanent crown.
Pulpectomy is used to save a baby tooth that has been severely damaged by decay or trauma. While baby teeth may not seem important enough for a dental procedure like this, there are valid reasons for pulpectomy.
The baby tooth is reserving a space for the permanent tooth. Premature loss of a baby tooth can cause problems like:
- difficulty chewing
- speech development issues
- having adjoining teeth move into the space, affecting the alignment of permanent teeth (which can lead to crooked, overcrowded teeth that are difficult to clean)
Material used to fill the tooth after a pulpectomy is designed to be reabsorbed by the body when the permanent tooth begins to erupt.