Small bites - Exclusive Centre for Child Dentistry

Small bites - Exclusive Centre for Child Dentistry
(Click for Link to Clinic Website)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Root Canal Treatment for Baby Teeth - Pulpectomy

What is a Pulpectomy?

Pulpectomy is the name given to root canal therapy for baby teeth. This is required when decay or injury to a tooth has caused infection of the nerve. The aim is to keep the tooth until the correct time for it to fall out. 

I have been told my child needs a pulpectomy - why can't he just have a normal filling?

It is possible to place a filling in cases where the decay is only affecting the first two layers of the tooth - the enamel and the dentine. 

Diagram is of an adult tooth but illustrates the same stages of decay

Once there is infection within the nerve of the tooth this needs to be dealt with properly. If this is not done the nerve will eventually die and an abscess can occur when the infection spreads outside the tooth. Apart from causing severe pain, dental abscesses can cause fever and other health problems. As adult teeth develop close to the roots of baby teeth untreated infection can spread to and affect the normal development of the permanent teeth.

It's just a baby tooth - wouldn't it be better to pull it out?

Although they are lost early in life, primary teeth, also called baby teeth or milk teeth, are essential in the development and placement of the permanent teeth.

Baby teeth maintain the spaces for permanent teeth to erupt into. If baby teeth are lost too early other teeth may tilt into or take up the vacant space, forcing permanent teeth to come in crooked. 

If the baby tooth is getting close to being pushed out by the adult tooth that replaces it, a pulpectomy may not be advised. This can be judged by looking at an x-ray of the teeth. In this case the baby tooth can be left to fall out naturally or, if there is spreading infection, may need to be extracted.

How is a pulpectomy done?

  1. An opening is made through the top of the tooth. If the nerve is not completely dead, local anaesthetic will be required to numb the tooth first - click here for more information on this.
  2. The decay and infected nerve are removed. The root canals are cleaned and shaped using small files and then washed and dried. 
  3. The empty root canal space is then filled with a paste which is able to resorb as the tooth root loosens to make way for the new adult tooth.
  4. A filling is then placed in the top part of the tooth. An x-ray will be taken to check the root filling.

Most teeth with pulpectomies will require a crown (cap), as when the nerve is dead or removed the tooth is more brittle and more likely to fracture. For baby teeth near the back of the mouth a pre-formed metal crown is most often used. This may be done or the same or the next visit.

Will the procedure be difficult for my child to cope with?

Pulpectomies do require slightly more cooperation from your child than for a simple filling. However, as baby teeth have shorter, wider and less complex root canals than adult teeth the procedure is less complicated and takes less time than for root canal treatment in adult teeth. There should be no pain, as long the tooth has been numbed where this is required. Your child might feel a slight tugging sensation while the canals are being shaped using the files. The procedure is usually completed in one visit of approximately half an hour, but make take two visits if the nerve is very infected.

What is the success rate for pulpectomies?

Clinical studies have shown a 78 to 96% success rate with the latest materials use for filling root canals in baby teeth. 

Are there any precautions that should be taken after treatment?
  • Avoid eating and drinking for the first 20 minutes.
  • If your child had local anaesthetic to numb the tooth they will need to be careful not to bite their lip or tongue until the numbness has worn off.
  • On the day of treatment it is best to stick to softer foods that don't require a lot of chewing and avoid very hot food and drinks.
  • There is sometimes some mild pain or discomfort as the tooth settles down. This can be relieved using children's paracetomol. (Calpol or Crocin).
  • Your child should avoid biting heavily on the tooth until it is restored with a crown, as it may be brittle and prone to fracture.
  • The teeth should be brushed normally.


  1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts with us.. keep it up...

    Root Canal in Mumbai

  2. I must say your blogs are really helpful and informative with everything explained in detail with the right use of pictographs wherever needed. Keep sharing such blogs.

  3. Thanks For sharing Good Information Find Best Dentist in Bangalore & view all details of Dental specialist doctors

  4. Thanks for sharing such helpful information. It is always advisable to do a research on dental clinics before going for such treatment, specially for children's. I did a thorough research on Dentzz review on various review websites before finalizing for my child's dental treatments.

  5. For my kid among 2roots,1root completely dissolved due to decay is pulpectomy can be done?

  6. For me one doubt is there any difference in treatments for child root canal as well as adults root canal. if so please tell about that.

    Best Dental Clinic In Vellore

  7. I every time spent my half an hour to read this blog’s posts daily along with a mug of coffee.

    Best Read Reviews, ratings and testimonials about William Downie DDS. Welcome to Downie Family Dentistry, office of the highly talented Dr. Will Downie. We are glad you have chosen us for your oral health needs and hope that every encounter with our office and staff exceeds your expectations. We know our patients have a choice in dentists, so we go out of our way to deliver the level of dental care and compassion we would want for our own families.

  8. You have shared pretty good information on pulpectomy. Couple of weeks ago, I took treatment from dentist Hermosa Beach. He was quite down to earth and workaholic that He treated me very well. Best part was that He gave one of best treatment.