A pulpectomy, sometimes called a baby root canal, is a common procedure that is performed on a primary (baby) tooth. When a deep cavity forms in a baby tooth or if the tooth develops an infection, a pulpectomy can restore the health of the tooth so that it can remain in the mouth until it is naturally shed.
If your child needs a pulpectomy, you may be wondering what to expect afterwards. Here’s what you need to know about recovery from a pulpectomy to help your child feel more comfortable.
What is a Pulpectomy?
A pulpectomy involves the removal of the dental pulp from the inside of a baby tooth. Dental pulp is soft tissue containing blood vessels and nerves that sustain the tooth. It is also susceptible to infection. If the pulp is infected or at risk of infection, the best treatment option is to remove it. After the pulp is removed the tooth is cleaned and filled with a replacement material that is resistant to infection. The tooth is then sealed for protection. A crown may be placed over the tooth to provide additional protection until it falls out naturally.
Anesthesia for a Pulpectomy
A pulpectomy can be performed with local anesthesia to numb the tooth that is receiving treatment. If it would be helpful, nitrous oxide can provide light sedation to help your child relax. Local anesthesia can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to wear off after the procedure. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off almost immediately or in a matter of minutes.
Once the local anesthesia wears off your child may experience some mild discomfort. It should be easily managed with over the counter pain relievers such as tylenol (acetaminophen) or advil (ibuprofen).
What to Feed Your Child After a Pulpectomy
It can also help with discomfort to provide a soft food diet for your child. Examples include:
- Mashed potatoes
If your child is feeling less discomfort and can eat soft foods, consider the following that require minimal chewing:
- Scrambled eggs
- Soft bread
- Cooked vegetables
It is important to wait until the local anesthesia wears off before allowing your child to eat anything that requires chewing. When the cheeks, lips, and tongue are numb it is possible to bite them and not realize it.
When Can My Child Resume Regular Activities?
In most cases your child can resume regular activities the day after the procedure. In many cases your child may feel fine later the same day or immediately after. We recommend that children don’t do any strenuous exercise until the next day.
Who Performs Pulpectomies?
A pulpectomy is an endodontic procedure, meaning it is most often performed by an endodontist. An endodontist specializes in restoring the health of the teeth through treatment of the dental pulp.
Eagle Endodontics provides services for patients of all ages, including children. To learn more, contact us today at one of our two convenient locations to schedule an appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my child needs a pulpectomy?
A pulpectomy is needed if a tooth is infected or at risk. Symptoms may include tooth pain, swelling of the gums, extreme sensitivity, pain when chewing, and discoloration of the enamel. Your dentist may also identify the need for a pulpectomy during a routine oral examination or dental X-ray.
How long does a pulpectomy take?
A typical pulpectomy may take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. For a complex case it could take as long as 90 minutes. For children who have difficulty sitting still for that long, nitrous oxide can help.