Therapeutic pulpotomy is different than root canal therapy in that a pulpotomy involves only the partial removal of the pulp from the crown portion of a tooth. During root canal therapy, the pulp is removed entirely from all root canals of the tooth.
During a therapeutic pulpotomy, the inflamed portion of the pulp is removed. After an agent is applied to clean and disinfect the tooth, the tooth is sealed with an amalgam or composite filling, sometimes referred to as a build-up. The tooth is then usually covered with a crown. Therapeutic pulpotomy is most often performed on children, but some adults also receive this treatment instead of root canal therapy.
During a root canal, small files are inserted into the roots of the tooth to completely remove the pulp. Next, the canals are filled with a synthetic material called gutta-percha. The tooth is then cleaned and covered with a filling or crown. The complexity of root canal therapy depends in part on how many roots the affected tooth has. Front teeth and incisors typically have only one root. Premolars generally have two roots, and most molars have three roots.
The pulp of a tooth contains nerves, blood vessels and other tissues. The pulp can become infected or inflamed for a variety of reasons including tooth decay, deep fillings and trauma to the tooth.