When it comes to your child’s teeth and the pain being experienced, you want only the best treatment and most effective option for preserving the natural tooth. Thankfully, with modern techniques and advances in endodontic procedures like Vital Pulp Therapy, the door has been opened to maintain the vitality of the pulp tissue and potentially avoid conventional root canal treatment.
But what is Vital Pulp Therapy (VPT)? Good question! VPT is a treatment which aims to preserve and maintain pulp tissue that has been compromised but not destroyed by things like decay or trauma. This is especially important in the young adult tooth with incomplete root development.
Previously only root canal therapy or extraction were considered for these teeth. It wasn’t until May 2021 that the American Association of Endodontics voiced support for complete caries removal through VPT based their recommendations on many studies demonstrating a high rate of success.
Why Consider Vital Pulp Therapy?
VPT is typically performed on children diagnosed with pulpitis, which is the medical term referring to the inflammation of the pulp due to infection leading to dental caries. Patients usually experience throbbing pain and extreme sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures.
The goal of VPT is to save healthy dental pulp and the natural tooth, in order to avoid extraction and promote regular tooth development and function. VPT is only recommended when there is no swelling or abscess around the tooth and it is not loose.
Compared to a traditional root canal, VPT is a cost-effective and less invasive procedure. For children, it can eliminate tooth pain, inflammation, and tooth infection in a way that can help preserve baby teeth and reduce the spread of decay. Unlike some other dental procedures, VPT will allow the transition from baby teeth to permanent teeth to happen naturally. Plus, VPT can be completed in a single appointment.
How is VPT Performed?
Our endodontists start by performing an in-person examination and evaluate X-rays of the affected tooth area. The extent of the pulp damage then determines the nature of the treatment. Although there are different approaches, the pulpotomy and pulpectomy procedures are among the most common for adults and children.
Pulpotomy is a common procedure and can be referred to as baby root canal. Pulpotomy restores and saves the tooth infected by a deep cavity. If the pulp root is unaffected by injury or decay, we may leave the healthy part alone and only remove the affected pulp and surrounding tooth decay. The gap is then filled with a biocompatible, therapeutic material, which prevents infection and soothes the pulp root. In this procedure, a crown is placed on the tooth to strengthen the tooth structure, minimizing the risk of future fractures.
Pulpectomy, on the other hand, is similar to a root canal. In the case of severe tooth decay or trauma, the entire tooth pulp (including the root canals) may be affected. The endodontist removes all the pulp from the damaged tooth from the crown to the roots. In these cases, our endodontists must remove the pulp, cleanse the root canals, and then pack the area with biocompatible material.
Reabsorbable material is used to fill primary teeth, and non-reabsorbable material is then used to fill permanent teeth. The final treatment step is to place a crown on the tooth to add strength and provide structural support. The crown can be disguised with a natural-colored covering, if preferred.
If you or a family member are experiencing tooth pain or have a damaged tooth, go ahead and contact your dentist to request a referral to Endodontic Specialists so that we can examine the tooth and determine what type of treatment will be best. Call us at (719) 599-7665 today!