October 10, 2017
A patient goes to the dentist for a routine checkup and is told they have a cavity, also known as dental caries or decay. A dentist will remove the dental disease from the tooth and, once all the disease is gone, will place the patient’s choice of restoration in the tooth. However, sometimes the removal of dental caries can lead to the pulp of the tooth either being exposed or nearly exposed, which causes pulpitis or inflammation of the nerve of the tooth. If left untreated, pulpitis can become irreversible, leading to pain and pulp necrosis, which would necessitate either root canal treatment or extraction. To prevent the nerve from becoming necrotic, a dentist can attempt to place a pulp cap.
Pulp capping involves placing material containing calcium hydroxide or mineral trioxide aggregate over the nerve or pulp chamber. This will help sooth the inflamed nerve and help the pulp stimulate reparative dentin. Pulp capping is a good way to desensitize the tooth and possibly prevent the need for root canal therapy or extractions.