Can you help me figure something out? My daughter had a toothache so I scheduled an emergency appointment. Her pediatric dentist said the tooth is infected and he wants me to bring her back in a week for a pulpotomy. It is a baby tooth so I don’t understand why we just don’t take it out. Nor do I even understand what a pulpotomy is. When I asked him about it he got annoyed. I think I offended him by questioning why, but honestly shouldn’t a parent know what is happening to their child and if it is necessary?
I am sorry your daughter’s dentist isn’t being respectful of you as the parent. You are correct that you deserve to know what is going on and why a procedure may or may not be necessary. A pulpotomy will only be necessary if it is a back molar. While most baby teeth can come out prematurely, back molars have to stay until your daughter is around twelve years old.
If that tooth is lost prematurely, your dentist will need to place a space maintainer there. Without that, her teeth will shift into the empty space. By the time her twelve-year-old molars do come in, it will lead to crowding. You do not want to pay for orthodontics if they can be prevented!
A pulpotomy is a child’s version of a root canal treatment. It is simpler and will be an easy procedure for her. The purpose behind the procedure is to keep her molar viable for as long as possible.
If it isn’t a back tooth you are talking about, then extracting it will be fine. There is no reason for a pulpotomy in that case.
Either way, I think you need to find a new dentist to treat your daughter. You want a dentist who takes the time to explain procedures to you and respects that you are the one most responsible for your daughter’s well being and have a right to question things. It doesn’t have to be a pediatric specialist. Your daughter can just see a family dentist. Those are general dentists who enjoy treating children. They’re qualified and your daughter may enjoy the two of you going to the same dentist.
One other thing. For some children, dental visits are scary, especially when they are already in pain. See if your dentist has sedation options available so your daughter can be as relaxed as possible. The last thing anyone wants is her developing dental anxiety.
This blog is brought to you by Kalamazoo Dentist Dr. Susan Dennis.