A therapeutic pulpotomy is a restorative procedure often performed on a primary tooth to arrest decay progressing near, or to, the tooth's pulp (nerve). The procedure can also be completed on permanent teeth, but when done so, is typically a temporary solution pursued only when pain is acute, and time does not allow for a root canal in the immediate term.
It is worth nothing that regardless of the fact that a therepeautic pulpotomy can be performed prior to receiving root canal therapy, this dental procedure code does not cover the procedure when the second step is root canal therapy. As such, use of this code only covers a pulpotomy when it is not a precursor to a root canal. It also does not cover the final restoration to the tooth which may include the installation of a prefabricated stainless steel crown, for example.
This code is also unique in that it covers both a partial pulpotomy, as well as a complete pulpotomy. With a partial pulpotomy, only a portion of the dental pulp is removed from the pulpal chamber. In a complete pulpotomy, all of this material is removed from the chamber up until the point where the root's surface area, called the cementum, meets the dentin that resides just beneath the enamel in the upper part of the tooth (the crown). Essentially, the excavation in a complete pulpotomy stops just before the root canal structures begin. Even though this is the case, this procedure is often referred to incorrectly as a “baby root canal.”
Like any other procedure to remove decayed or weakened areas of the tooth, a pulpotomy begins with your dentist first excavating these specific areas from the tooth. Once the dentist has gained access to the pulpal chamber the infected pulp will be removed as well, commonly with a high speed burr (a drill), or a spoon excavator, which resembles a small, narrow spoon at the end of a long metal handle.
Once this step is complete your dentist will use a sterilization agent to clean the chamber of any remaining bacteria, and then seal it with a therapeutic compound made with Zinc Oxide and Eugenol (oil of clove). The natural properties of these two materials allow them to effectively “sedate” the tooth, (or, allow it to calm down) and begin its own natural healing process.
When the tooth is sealed, your dentist may decide to place a stainless steel crown on the tooth for further protection that will cover the tooth until it is replaced by its future permanent replacement.
To look up and find more cdt dental codes from the American Dental Association, please visit our complete Dental Procedure Code Library.