How Pulpotomies and Pulpectomies Restore Damaged Teeth

A pulpotomy can save a tooth

How a baby root canal can restore your child’s oral health. 

We all want to do our best to protect our children’s teeth. After all, problems with teeth can lead to more severe health problems and poor eating habits, and having those develop early in life can be a major concern. That’s why it’s important to know what to do when your children’s teeth become badly damaged or infected. 

Most of the time, if a child gets a cavity, the proper thing to do is have a filling put in. If, however, the damage is too severe or there is an infection, sometimes a simple filling is not enough. That is when it may be necessary to have a pulpotomy or pulpectomy in order to save and restore a damaged tooth. 

Why Your Child Might Need More Than a Filling

When a child gets a cavity, most of the time the best solution is a filling. However, there are certain cases where a filling is not enough. A normal cavity that has not progressed too far can be filled and the tooth sealed to prevent further decay. If the tooth decay gets too severe, though, it can make the tooth brittle and possibly even make it fall apart. There is also the possibility that the tooth may become infected, and an infection can become a serious problem that can affect the entire body, not just the individual tooth. 

If it happens that a tooth is too damaged for a filling alone, then the dentist may need to perform a pulpotomy or pulpectomy.

Pulpotomy and Pulpectomy: What Are They? 

While they sound similar, a pulpotomy and a pulpectomy are two different procedures used depending on the type of damage your child’s tooth has and what needs to be done to fix it. In some cases a pulpotomy is sufficient, while in other cases a pulpectomy is needed. 


A pulpotomy is a specialized procedure where the dentist removes the pulp from the upper part—the crown—of the tooth once the cavity has caused it to start to decay. Once a cavity progresses to a certain point, it begins to affect the inner part of the tooth and this can cause the tooth to become weak and brittle. 

The dentist removes the damaged pulp and cleans the tooth so that it can be filled and sealed. This procedure is commonly done on baby teeth in order to save the tooth, so long as there is still proper blood flow and sensation in the tooth, but it can also be done on adult teeth as well. 

Your dentist may need to extend the procedure to the part of the tooth that goes beneath the gum, so the scope of the procedure will be different depending on the person. While it is fairly invasive,  anesthesia is administered, and there is minimal recovery time afterwards. For kids, this is the most effective way to save a tooth that has had damage to the internal structure from a cavity. 


While a pulpotomy removes part of the pulp from a tooth that has been damaged by a severe cavity, a pulpectomy takes that a step further. During a pulpectomy the dentist may remove pulp from all parts of the tooth, not just the area near the gumline, and this usually includes the roots of the tooth as well. This is why a root canal is needed when a pulpectomy is done, to make sure the damaged parts of the root are taken care of along with cleaning out the damaged pulp. 

A pulpectomy is necessary when the tooth is damaged all the way through or if the tooth gets an infection that needs to be taken care of. The procedure cleans out all dead, damaged, or infected pulp and the entire root canal, so that what’s left is free of infection and debris. This way, even a very damaged tooth can be saved. 

In terms of what the procedure looks like, a pulpectomy is much more in depth and requires the dentist to examine and then clean the entire tooth, sometimes removing the majority of the pulp inside. The pulpectomy is also the first step before a root canal is performed, so the procedure is always a two-stage process, starting with the pulp removal and ending with the root canal to ensure that the entire tooth is free of debris and infection. 

Pediatric Dental Specialists is here to help your child. 

Being told that your child needs a pulpotomy or a pulpectomy can feel overwhelming, but the good news is that the team at Pediatric Dental Specialists is very experienced in treating children who need these procedures. We will thoroughly explain what is needed and why, and will ensure your child has a comfortable and relaxed experience. If you still have questions about your child’s oral health, reach out to Pediatric Dental Specialists. We can’t wait to care for your child.