A direct pulp cap procedure is used when bacterial decay has reached the pulpal chamber, causing inflammation and threatening the survival of the tooth, or because of accidental entry into the pulpal chamber via a dental drill. Since maintaining pulpal health is paramount when saving a tooth, your dentist may use a pulp cap to kill bacteria in the area. There are two types of pulp caps available. An indirect cap, which is used in treating a tooth without any exposed pulp tissue, and a direct cap, which is used when the pulp has already been exposed. This dental code description refers to a direct pulp cap.
Unlike traditional amalgam or composite resin fillings made of metal or acrylic, filling a tooth with a direct pulp cap is completed by first layering a coating of calcium hydroxide, or MTA, at the deepest point of decay, and then occasionally filling above that with a mixture of oil of clove (eugenol) and zinc oxide. The natural properties of these two materials allow them to effectively “sedate” the tooth (that is, allow it to calm down) and work together with the calcium hydroxide to allow the tooth to heal itself.
Direct pulp caps are typically a single visit event. However, your dentist may want to annually revisit the restoration to monitor exposure of the pulp to bacteria.
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