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Pulpotomy involves the removal of part of the tooth nerve or the tooth pulp.  Generally this procedure is only performed as an alternative to a root canal procedure for a child when there is an infection reaching into the nerve, although it can sometimes be used for secondary teeth.  It is used to remove infection from the top part of the pulp chamber.  If the infection has reached further towards the roots then it might not be effective. 

A Pulpotomy can also be used when a developing tooth shows signs of decay or damage to the top of the pulp chamber before the roots have fully developed.  This can take the place of a root canal procedure. 

Pulpotomy Procedure

  • Decay is removed along with the surface of the pulp chamber
  • The area is sterilized and numbed using formocresol applied with a small cotton bud
  • The opening is closed using a putty type material that hardens over a few minutes.  This is usually made from Zinc Oxide and Eugenol. 
  • A dental crown is placed on the tooth to protect it

Pulpotomy Results

The prognosis for teeth treated with pulpotomy is generally good with a roughly 90% success rate.  The procedure is quick and effective, and the tooth should stop causing the child a problem.  Sometimes something might go wrong leading to the removal of the tooth, but this is rare, and with primary teeth the secondary tooth can then grow through to take its place, making an implant unnecessary.  The medicines, such as Zinc Oxide, can affect other areas of the mouth, creating an uncomfortable sensation.  This ought to only be temporary.  In cases where the infection has spread deeper within the nerve then this procedure might not work.  This can happen when your dentist misses a newly formed infection as the tissue can appear perfectly healthy. Some instances might require a root canal anyway.  This will remove the rest of the affected tissues and completely stop the pain.  Pain can be controlled using normal, everyday painkillers.