Help me. My son’s pediatric dentist hates questions. I tend to want to ask a lot of them because I want to know what’s happening. The last time he said, “If you have trouble trusting your dentist maybe you should get a dental degree so you won’t have to ask so many.” I was offended, but he’s the only pediatric dentist within 20 minutes. Now he’s talking about my son needing a pulpotomy and I have no idea what that is. Can you help me? It sounds scary.
While it does sound scary, it really isn’t. Before we get to the pulpotomy, though, I want you to understand that your current pediatric dentist is way out of line. His job is to explain what’s being done thoroughly along with all your options so you can give informed consent. You’re not getting that. I really think you need a new pediatric dentist. You may not have to drive as far as you think. There are many general dentists who treat children. Many families find it convenient for them to all go to the same clinic.
Now, onto your question. A pulpotomy is simply a child’s version of a root canal treatment. It probably won’t seem any different to him than getting a filling. Most of the time if the parent doesn’t act afraid the child won’t be either.
This procedure isn’t always necessary though, so I want to make sure he’s not getting one he doesn’t really need. I’m a big believer in only doing necessary work on children especially. If it’s a baby tooth that’s likely to fall out very soon, I wouldn’t bother. If it’s not looking like it’s about to come out you could just deal with the decay and get him a mercury-free filling. If the decay is so large you’re worried about an infection developing, it’s probably better to just extract the tooth.
The exception to the above being if it’s a molar. These have to stay in until he’s around 11 or 12 years old. If it comes out prematurely, your looking at crowding teeth and expensive orthodontics. A pulpotomy will help keep the molar in its rightful place until it’s time to go.
If it turns out the tooth can’t be saved and he needs an extraction, don’t panic. Your dentist can put a space maintainer there to hold the place for his twelve-year-old molars.
I hope this puts your mind at rest. Now go out there and find a better dentist for your little guy (and you – questions are important)!
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Raymond Bolt.