Our teeth were meant to last us a lifetime; unfortunately, many primary and adult teeth are lost prematurely. With the advances in dentistry, we have techniques available to preserve teeth that would not have been savable in the past. When the living tissue (pulp) in the center of the tooth becomes infected, a tooth can be lost if it is left untreated.
Primary teeth are important because primary teeth will fall out and will be replaced with adult teeth, many people do not take baby teeth health seriously. However, primary teeth are essential to a child’s health and wellbeing, and to the development of healthy adult teeth. Primary teeth serve as placeholders, or guides for the permanent teeth. When primary teeth are lost, malocclusion (misalignment) of the permanent teeth can result.
Dental implants, partial dentures, or bridgework cannot be easily used in kids with growing mouths. Space maintainers can be utilized, but they require constant monitoring and they do not restore function. For cosmetic, functional, and developmental reasons, it is best to preserve a natural primary tooth whenever possible.
Treatment for an infected primary tooth
Adult teeth that have become infected are typically treated with root canal therapy, but primary (baby) teeth and incompletely formed permanent teeth are generally treated with a pulpotomy. A pulpotomy involves removing the upper portion of the pulp in a tooth while leaving the root portion of the pulp intact and viable.
The inflamed pulp tissue is removed and measures are taken to prevent the remaining vital tissue from becoming infected. The pulp chamber is then filled, and the tooth is sealed. A crown may be placed over the tooth to provide strength and protection.
If the decay or trauma is just approaching the dental pulp, or it is just barely exposed, but not severely affected yet, alternative treatments may be recommended. If the pulp has not been exposed yet, indirect pulp treatment may be a solution. An antibacterial agent is applied and the tooth is restored to seal it. If there is just a small amount of pulp exposure, direct pulp capping may be a solution. Dr. Koppikar will recommend the best treatment, depending on the extent of the damage to the tooth.
It is important to save primary teeth until they are lost naturally whenever possible. Dr. Koppikar and his team are exceptional resources for information on the care and repair of even the smallest smiles in Phoenix. Call (602) 954-8200 to schedule a consultation today.