My 4-year-old daughter’s dentist is recommending a pulpotomy. Of course, the issue is with a primary tooth. So, I’m not a fan of treating a tooth that my daughter is going to lose anyway. Is this necessary? If our pediatric dentist doesn’t know what she’s doing, I will switch to a family dentist who knows another way to treat this issue. Why would a dentist do a root canal on a child anyway? – Xenia from Cypress, TX
Your concerns are understandable. Many parents want to limit the types of dental procedures their kids receive when they are young. Although Dr. Finley would need to examine your daughter’s tooth before recommending treatment, we can review some facts about a pulpotomy.
What Is the Purpose of a Pulpotomy?
As you mentioned, a pulpotomy is like a root canal treatment but for primary teeth. Pediatric dentists use it to eliminate infection in a tooth.
How Does It Work?
- After the dentist removes most of the pulp, he or she disinfects the tooth.
- Pediatric dentists seal the tooth and usually cover it with a stainless steel crown.
- Primary teeth are space holders for permanent teeth and need to stay in place until a child is 10 to 12 years old. A pulpotomy keeps a primary tooth intact, so it can guide the permanent tooth that will follow and prevent spacing issues that create a need for orthodontic treatment.
Is There an Alternative to Pulpotomy?
Yes. The infected tooth can be removed, and your dentist can place a space maintainer to ensure the permanent tooth erupts properly.
Should You Switch from a Pediatric Dentist to a Family Dentist?
Although a family dentist offers the convenience of traveling to a single office for your family’s dental care needs, if you and your child are happy with her current dentist, there isn’t a need to switch. Talk to the dentist about your concerns with a pulpotomy. And ask about the pros and cons of a space maintainer. Also, weigh the pros and cons for each family member if you switch to a family dentist.
Monroe, LA dentist Dr. David Finley sponsors this post.