The pulp of a tooth contains the blood supply and nerves. A healthy pulp is ideal, but if it is sick, medicine needs to be placed to maintain the health of the roots of the tooth.Tooth decay and trauma are the main reasons for a tooth to require pulp therapy. Pulp therapy is often referred to as a "nerve treatment" or "baby root canal". The two common forms of pulp therapy in primary teeth are the pulpotomy and pulpectomy.
A pulpotomy removes the sick pulp tissue in the pulp chamber only. Once this is removed, medicine is placed to prevent bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue. A stainless steel crown is generally placed at this time.
A pulpectomy is required when the entire pulp is involved, including the roots of the baby tooth. During this treatment, the diseased pulp tissue is completely removed from both the crown and root. This procedure is more similar to a "root canal" in adult teeth. The canals are cleaned, disinfected and filled with a resorbable material. Unlike adult root canal filling material, it is important to use a resorbable one for primary teeth in order to avoid any interruption in the adult tooth erupting into place. A stainless steel crown is generally placed at this time.