Never heard of pulp capping? Now you’ll know what it is.
Perhaps your dentist has recommended you undergo a pulp capping to treat a decayed tooth, but you’re unfamiliar with that term. Good news — we’re here to help! Pulp capping is a common dental technique that can save your natural tooth from further decay.
Aside from stopping decay from reaching into the tooth’s innermost layer, pulp capping may also spare you from more invasive procedures such as root canals or extractions. Read on to understand better what pulp capping entails.
What is pulp capping?
Your tooth is made up of three layers. The first is the hard covering of enamel, which protects the next layer of softer dentin. Within the dentin is the tooth’s pulp, which is a collection of blood vessels, nerves, and non-calcified tissue. You can think of the pulp as the nerve center of your tooth. If it becomes infected or decayed, you will experience a severe toothache.
A pulp capping can prevent that from happening. Depending on the extent of the decay, your dentist will recommend one of two pulp capping procedures:
Direct pulp capping. If decay completely exposes the pulp, but no infection is present, your dentist will suggest a direct pulp capping. First, the decay will be removed as the site is cleaned. Your dentist will then use either calcium hydroxide or mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA) as the sedative sealant to protect the pulp from bacteria. Both have antibacterial qualities and give the dentin time to repair itself.
The third step involves filling the cavity with temporary or permanent materials. Because your natural tooth is saved, you can chew and bite normally. Direct pulp capping is only recommended for permanent teeth. It can be performed on primary teeth if the pulp becomes exposed due to mechanical trauma to the tooth.
Indirect pulp capping. This procedure is performed when only the tooth’s enamel and dentin are decayed, but the pulp hasn’t yet been fully exposed. Because the decay hasn’t reached the pulp, you may not feel any pain but may still require a pulp capping. Indirect pulp capping is typically done in several appointments.
The dentist will remove most of the decay while leaving a thin layer of dentin to cover the pulp tissue. Much like direct pulp capping, your dentist will apply a sedative material to the dentin and a temporary filling on the tooth. Six to eight months later, you’ll return to your dentist, who will evaluate how well the dentin has regenerated. At that time, the dentist will also remove any residual decay. Finally, a permanent filling will restore the tooth to its full functionality. Indirect pulp capping can be done on both permanent and young primary teeth.
Pulp capping has a high success rate, yet there is a slight chance decay may reach the pulp even after capping. Report any pain to your dentist, who may decide you need a root canal.
A pulp capping can stop cavities from growing larger. It can also replace more costly and extensive procedures like a root canal or tooth extraction. However, your dentist will only perform a tooth capping if your mouth and teeth are in good condition. So if you want this less invasive, tooth-saving procedure, brush at least two times a day, floss daily to clean between teeth, eat calcium-rich foods, limit sweets, and see your dentist twice a year.
Keep your teeth healthy!
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Norman, Oklahoma, location today! Our highly trained dentists are experts in all dental procedures to save your tooth. Don’t live near our Norman, Oklahoma, office? Find one of our other locations near you.
550 24th Ave. S.W.
Norman, OK 73069