When the nerve of a baby tooth becomes infected, a pulpectomy can save the tooth. Like a root canal in an adult tooth, a pulpectomy involves removal of the infected nerve and the placement of a filling material.

Though treatment is individualized in each case, there are four common steps in a pulpectomy. First, an opening is made into the tooth to get at the infection. Then the infected nerve tissue is removed. A filling material is placed in the root canals, and then a crown is placed to seal and protect the tooth.

We want the entire procedure to be comfortable for your child, so the first thing we do is make sure her mouth is thoroughly numb. We place a rubber dam around the tooth to isolate it from the rest of the mouth. It protects her like a safety net: Nothing can fall to the back of her throat.

To get at the infection, we make an opening through the top of the tooth down into the pulp chamber. We carefully clean out the infected tissue and then place a filling material. The last step in the procedure is the placement of a crown to seal and protect the tooth.

A pulpotomy is the surgical removal of irritated, inflamed nerve tissue (also called pulp) from within the crown portion of a primary (baby) tooth. The healthy root canals are left intact.

When decay in your child's tooth penetrates the enamel, and then the next layer - the dentin - it quickly approaches the innermost part of the tooth, the pulp. At this point, when the decay is close to or has barely penetrated the pulp, the nerve is still alive, but it is compromised. If left untreated, the decay will penetrate and spread throughout the nerve tissue in the pulp, which will lead to discomfort.

your child, we thoroughly numb the affected area.

mouth and keep it dry. A rubber dam also protects like a safety net, preventing debris from falling to the back of your child's throat.

the tooth down into the pulp chamber, and thoroughly clean out the nerve tissue.

Discomfort after the procedure is unlikely. However, if your child does experience some pain, a children's pain reliever should be given, following label directions.

A pulpotomy is a relatively quick and painless procedure that's extremely effective in eliminating infection in the nerve and saving your child's tooth.