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Unraveling the Mystery: What is Pulpotomy?

March 25, 2024


Ever found yourself meandering through the intricate alleys of dental terminology and stumbled upon the term "pulpotomy"? Well, sit tight, because by the end of this article, you won't be left in the dark anymore!

What is Pulpotomy?

You might think it sounds like a dance move or maybe a fancy culinary technique. But, drumroll please, a pulpotomy is actually a dental procedure! At its core, a pulpotomy is a procedure where the inflamed pulp of a tooth is removed, typically in children's baby teeth.

According to Finn (1995) , pulpotomy is defined as the complete removal of the coronal portion of the dental pulp , followed by placement of a suitable fressing or medicament that will promote healing and preserve the vitality of the tooth
According to American Academy of pediatric dentistry (1998) , pulpotomy is defined as the amputation of affected , infected coronal portion of the dental pulp preserving the vitality and function of the remaining part of the radicular pulp
objective of pulpotomy include :
1.Removal of inflamed and infected coronal pulp at the site of exposure thus preserving the vitality of the radicular pulp and allowing it to heal
2.The next main objective is to maintain the tooth in the dental arch

     Rationale :

  • The radicular pulp is healthy and is capable of healing after surgical amputation of the infected coronal pulp
  • It preserves the vitality of the radicular pulp
  • It maintains tooth in a physiologic condition

The Tooth's Tale: A Brief Overview

  • The Structure of a Tooth

    • Enamel: The white, hard outer layer.
    • Dentin: The softer layer beneath the enamel.
    • Pulp: The innermost part, containing blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues.
  • Why is the Pulp Important?

    Teeth aren't just static bones. They're living structures, and the pulp plays a critical role in keeping them alive. It provides nourishment, reacts to external stimuli (like temperature changes), and produces dentin.

Why Opt for a Pulpotomy?

A pulpotomy isn't done for the fun of it. It's a response to specific dental challenges.

  • Infection or Decay: Bacteria's got a sneaky way of making themselves at home in our teeth, especially if dental hygiene's taken a back seat. When they settle in the pulp, trouble brews.
  • Trauma: Accidents happen! A severe knock might damage the pulp, even if the tooth doesn't chip or break.

Indications :

  • Mechanical pulp exposure in primary teeth
  • Teeth showing a large carious lesion but free of radicular pulpitis
  • History of spontaneous teeth
  • Teeth showing large carious lesion but free of radicular pulpitis
  • History of only spontaneous pain
  • Hemorrhage exposure sites bright red and can be controlled
  • Absence of abscess and fistula
  • No interradicular bone loss
  • No interradicular radiolucency
  • At least 2/3rd of the root length still present to ensure reasonable functional life
  • In young permanent tooth with vital exposed pulp and incompletely formed apices


  • Persistent toothache
  • Tenderness to percussion
  • Root resorption more than 1/3rd of the root length
  • Large carious lesion with non-restorable crown
  • Highly viscous , sluggish hemorrhage from canal orifice which is uncontrollable
  • Medical contractions like heard disease , immunocompromised patient
  • Swelling or fistula
  • external or internal resorption
  • Pathological mobility
  • Calcification of the pulp

Criteria for selection (Heilig J et al .1984 and Waterhouse et al. 2000)

  • Teeth with deep carious lesion (radiographically the caries should be approximating to the pulp )
  • Teeth should be restorable after completion of the procedure
  • Absence of symptoms indicative of advanced pulpal inflamation  such as spontaneous pain or history of nocturnal
  • pain.
  • Absence of clinical signs or symptoms.
  • Absence of clinical or radiographic signs of pulpal necrosis, furcation involvement, periapical pathology, internal resorption, calcification in canal.
  • Hemorrhage should stop within five minute from the amputated pulp stumps using a sterile pledget of moist cotton.
  • After assessment of clinical and radiographical criteria, single visit pulpotomy procedure was performed on the selected molars.

How's It Done? The Pulpotomy Procedure

A pulpotomy isn't some witchcraft; it's science and precision. Here's a peek into the procedure:

  1. First off, the dentist ensures the patient is at ease (nobody wants jitters, right?).
  2. Local anesthesia is administered to numb the area.
  3. The decayed part of the tooth is removed, and a small opening is made to access the pulp.
  4. The damaged or decayed pulp is carefully removed.
  5. The area is then sealed and usually followed up with a dental crown.

Neat, right?

The Pros and Cons

Every procedure has its ups and downs, and pulpotomy's no exception.

  • Pros:

    • Relief from pain and discomfort.
    • Prevents further spread of infection.
    • Saves the tooth from extraction.
  • Cons:

    • Possible complications post-procedure.
    • Not a permanent solution for adult teeth.

Pulpotomy vs. Pulpectomy: What's the Difference?

You're thinking, "Come on! More terms?" Don't fret! Let's break it down:

  • Pulpotomy: As we've established, it's the removal of part of the pulp, typically the crown part.
  • Pulpectomy: This procedure involves removing the entire pulp from both the crown and the root.

Current concepts of pulpotomy

Torabinejad described the physical and chemical properties of MTA in 1995.It is ash colored powder made primarily of fine hydrophilic particles of tricalcium aluminate, tricalcium silicate, silicate oxide, tricalcium oxide and bismuth oxide is added for radio-opacity. Hydration of the powder results in a colloidal gel composed of calcium oxide crystals in an amorphous structure. This gel solidifies into a hard structure in less than three hours.It has a compressive strength equal to zinc oxide eugenol with polymer reinforcement [IRM].It is available commercially as ProRoot MTA (Dentsply Tulsa Dental, Tulsa, Okla)

Properties of MTA

  • It is biocompatible material and its sealing ability is better than that of amalgam or Zinc Oxide Eugenol.
  • Initial pH is 10.2 and set pH is 12.5
  • The setting time of cement is 4 hours
  • The compressive strength is 70 MPA, which is comparable with that of IRM.
  • Low cytotoxicity–It presents with minimal inflammation if extended beyond the apex.
  • Mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA) has demonstrated the ability to induce hard-tissue formation in pulpal tissues and it promotes rapid cell growth.
  • MTA has an antibacterial effect on some facultative bacteria but no effect on strict anaerobic bacteria. This limited antibacterial effect is less than that demonstrated by calcium hydroxide pastes. The ability of MTA to resist the penetration of microorganisms appears to be high.
  • The use of MTA as an agent for pulp capping or for providing apical seal is well documented.18 The use of this agent in pulp capping was doubted as it was hypothesized that the hard tissue barrier formed by MTA could deflect the permanent tooth bud once the primary tooth was near to exfoliation. But recent studies have indicated that MTA can be used successfully as a pulpotomy agent also . 

Cuisia19 et al. (2001) conducted pulpotomy in 60 molars and showed clinical success rate was 93 percent for formocresol and 97 percent for MTA, whereas the radiographic success was 77 percent for formocresol and 93 percent for MTA.
Agamy20 et al. (2004) conducted a clinical trial and compared gray MTA, white MTA, and formocresol in 72 molars of 24 children. They found 100 percent clinical and radiographic success rate with MTA and 90 percent success rate with formocresol

Use of Lyophilized Freeze Dried Platelet with Calcium Hydroxide as Pulpotomy Agent
These compounds act as signaling proteins that could be directly involved in the regulation of cell proliferation, migration and extracellular matrix production in the dental pulp. A lyophilized freeze dried platelet derived preparation is containing transforming growth factor (TGF), platelet derived growth factor (PDGF), bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), insulin growth factor (IGF).These proteins have been used extensively in oral and maxillofacial reconstruction, adjunctive procedures related to the placement of osseointegrated implant in humans and periodontal regeneration. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the procedure painful?
    Not at all! Local anesthesia ensures the process is pain-free.

  • How long does recovery take?
    Usually, a few days. But hey, always listen to your dentist's advice.

  • Can adults undergo a pulpotomy?
    Typically, it's done on children's baby teeth. But in some cases, adults might undergo it too.

  • Is it costly?
    Costs vary depending on various factors. Best to consult your local dentist for this one.

  • What aftercare measures should be taken?
    Basic dental hygiene, avoiding hard foods, and following your dentist's recommendations should do the trick.

  • Are there alternatives?
    Yes, treatments like root canals or extractions might be alternatives, depending on the situation.

Beyond the Procedure: Aftercare and Maintenance

Once you're through with the pulpotomy, it isn't just "whistle your way out and forget." Maintaining that tooth becomes paramount. Regular check-ups, proper brushing and flossing, and avoiding excessively hard or sticky foods can make all the difference.


Navigating the realm of dental procedures can feel like you're lost in a maze. But with a clear understanding of what is pulpotomy, you're better equipped to make informed choices. Whether it's for you or your young one, knowledge is the key to a brighter (and healthier) smile!