Pulpotomy vs. Root Canal: What's the Difference?

Mullins SC Dentist Office

Root canal pulpotomy Mullins SC endodontist

Prolonged toothaches are never fun. They also shouldn’t be ignored or you could risk endangering the health of your smile. The best course of action is to see our Mullins endodontist ASAP. Dr. Blevins can recommend a pulpotomy or root canal therapy based on the condition of your tooth. But what’s the difference between the two?

Here’s what you need to know about a root canal procedure, pulpotomy, and when each is preferred.

Tooth Pulp: Definition and Function

Before we go any deeper into the comparison, let’s define pulp. Pulp is the soft innermost layer of a tooth that consists of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. Its function is to help create dentin (another tooth layer) and provide your tooth with nutrition.

If your teeth are cared for and kept clean, the pulp inside will remain healthy. However, pulp can become damaged whether from injury or tooth infection. Severe damage can result in your tooth losing its blood and nerve supply.

Common signs of damaged pulp may include:

  • Tooth pain and sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Sensation of heat in your gums
  • Swelling of the gums (dental abscess)
  • Inflammation

What Is a Pulpotomy?

A pulpotomy is the removal of the coronal pulp from within a tooth. That portion of the pulp is located in the crown (top) of the tooth which is visible above the gumline. Pulp in the roots is left alone and protected with a medicated filling after infected coronal pulp has been removed. It’s not uncommon for the procedure to finish with the application of a dental crown.

Dr. Blevins will predominantly perform a pulpotomy on alive teeth that are still responsive to temperature and have sensation. His goal is to treat the infection, keep the remaining pulp healthy, and save the natural tooth. If you’d prefer to opt for a less invasive pulpotomy, Dr. Blevins recommends you visit our Mullins dental office soon after you notice tooth pain.

You or a child may need a pulpotomy if:

  • There is a minor tooth infection that hasn’t yet resulted in a dental abscess
  • Tooth discomfort or pain is recent
  • A primary (baby) tooth has severe decay that has reached the pulp
  • Pulp in a permanent tooth has been affected by trauma or a cavity

What Is Root Canal Therapy?

Where a pulpotomy is chosen for teeth with less severe infection or pulp damage, root canal therapy goes a step beyond. Dr. Blevins will recommend the root canal procedure if your tooth infection is widespread and affects every part of the pulp.

For this treatment, Dr. Blevins will remove all pulp from within the tooth and clean the entire root canal Next, he’ll fill the tooth with a flexible material known as gutta-percha and seal the tooth so bacteria can’t re-enter and cause additional damage. If the original infection weakened your tooth, we’ll place a crown for added protection and strength.

You may need root canal therapy if:

  • Your tooth is no longer alive (dead pulp)
  • Pulp has become infected and resulted in a dental abscess
  • You’ve ignored a cavity
  • You’ve cracked a tooth and oral bacteria was able to enter

Saving Your Teeth Is Our Goal

Dental pulp is important to the health and well-being of our teeth. When it faces trauma or infection, our dentist in Mullins, SC, is prepared to do what is necessary to preserve your natural tooth. If you’re experiencing tooth pain, don’t wait. Call Blevins Dentistry at (843) 561-4039 to request an appointment and receive treatment.

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