Compared to adult teeth, baby teeth are smaller and have larger nerve chambers. This means that decay that goes undiagnosed or untreated can affect the nerve more quickly in baby teeth. For this reason, it is important to visit your dentist twice a year. When decay has reached the nerve but has not yet caused a dental infection or abscess, it is possible to save the tooth by performing nerve treatment. Depending on the extent of the cavity and how much of the nerve has been affected, Dr. Ruiz can perform a pulpotomy or pulpectomy to save the tooth. A pulpotomy involves the removal of the pulp tissue from the crown of the tooth (above the gumline). A pulpectomy involves the removal of the pulp tissue from the crown and the roots of the tooth (below the gumline). After nerve treatment is performed, the tooth is weaker and more prone to fracture. For protection from fracture, a crown is placed over the tooth that has received treatment. A stainless steel crown is the restoration of choice to protect the posterior or back teeth that have to withstand strong chewing forces. In the anterior area where more esthetic goals are desired, Dr. Ruiz will place white crowns.
In cases where decay has penetrated deep in the tooth and caused a dental abscess or infection, Dr. Ruiz will recommend removing the tooth. Once the tooth is removed, Dr. Ruiz will assess whether your child needs space maintainers to maintain the space for the adult teeth that will be erupting in the future.