The pulp of a tooth is the inner, central core of the tooth. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue, and reparative cells. The purpose of pulp therapy in Pediatric Dentistry is to maintain the vitality of the affected tooth (so the tooth is not lost). Dental caries (cavities) and traumatic injury are the main reasons for a tooth to require pulp therapy. Pulp therapy is often referred to as a "nerve treatment", "baby root canal". The two common forms of pulp therapy in children's teeth are the pulpotomy and pulpectomy.
A pulpotomy removes the diseased/ inflamed pulp tissue within the crown portion of the tooth. Next, an agent is placed to prevent bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue. This is followed by a final restoration (usually a stainless steel crown).
A pulpectomy is required when the entire pulp is involved (into the root canal(s) of the tooth). During this treatment, the diseased pulp tissue is completely removed from both the crown and root. The canals are cleansed, disinfected and, in the case of primary teeth, filled with a resorbable material. Then, a final restoration is placed.
A pulp cap may also be completed during a restorative procedure when infection/inflammation of the pulp is not suspected but the trauma or cavity is at or close to the pulp chamber. This consists of a medicinal base placed on or near the pulp to restore the tooth and prevent sensitivity or further nerve complications.