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Pulp Capping 101: What is a Pulp Cap?

Pulp Capping 101: What is a Pulp Cap?


Pulp capping is a method of restorative endodontic treatment that, in some cases, can provide an alternative to root canal treatment for a decayed tooth.


Safco Dental Supply is your one-stop expert resource for dental procedure supplies and information. Continue reading for a full breakdown of pulp capping – as well as which supplies you’ll need to complete this procedure for your patients successfully.


What is Pulp Capping?

Pulp capping treatment may be recommended when the decay inside the tooth has not yet reached the pulp. 


In most cases, dental pulp capping is done to avoid root canal treatment and provide the patient with the opportunity to seek a less invasive treatment method to save the integrity of their natural tooth.

If the enamel and dentin have been affected by damage or decay but the pulp remains healthy, it is possible to avoid a root canal and complete a pulp cap instead. For many patients, this can be an attractive treatment option.


The Steps Involved in a Pulp Cap Procedure

Below are the steps that are typically involved in a dental pulp cap procedure:

  1. Decay is removed
  2. Sedative material is placed (protects pulp from bacteria)
  3. Filling is placed


These three simple steps are typically used to carry out what is known as direct pulp capping.

Depending on the type of pulp cap procedure that is being done, additional steps may be carried out. Let’s touch on the two different types of capping procedures: direct pulp capping and indirect pulp capping.


Direct vs. Indirect Pulp Cap

There are two types of pulp cap treatment: direct and indirect. 


Direct pulp caps are done when decay has left a healthy dental pulp exposed. The steps that have been listed above are typically used to carry out a direct pulp cap procedure.


Indirect pulp caps are done when the decay is very close to the pulp. In this case, if a direct pulp cap was to be done, there is a risk of the pulp being damaged or exposed when the decay is removed. 


During an indirect pulp cap, a minimal amount of decay is left near the pulp and the area is covered with a dentin bonding agent – such as glass ionomer or calcium hydroxide. These substances typically help prevent bacteria growth and can encourage dentin regeneration. While it may seem counterproductive to leave a small bit of decay, properly sealing the dentin can actually encourage regeneration.


After the cavity has been filled with a temporary filling, progress will be monitored after a period of six to eight months. The temporary filling is removed in order to allow the provider to take a thorough look at the healing and regeneration. If needed, residual decay is removed before a permanent filling is placed at last.


Indirect pulp capping may typically be used on primary (baby) teeth, while direct pulp capping is better suited to secondary (adult) teeth.


Risks and Complications of a Pulp Cap

Of course, it is important to ensure that your patients are informed of the possible risks and/or complications that may come along with dental pulp capping.


The most important risk to consider is that the pulp cap procedure may not be successful if the decay and/or bacteria reach the pulp of the tooth after the procedure has been completed. The patient may then develop pulpitis, which would in turn call for a root canal in most cases. In some extreme cases, extensive decay or damage may necessitate an extraction.


Patients should be made aware that their pulp capping treatment may not provide a permanent solution, and that a root canal (or even an extraction) may possibly be needed in the case that their treatment fails. Ensuring that your patient is a fully-informed partner in their treatment is the best way to create a secure patient-provider bond.


It is also important to ensure that your patient fully understands the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene at home. Maintaining a healthy oral environment is imperative to the success of pulp cap treatment – as well as ensuring the health of the rest of the mouth.


Essential Supplies & Equipment for Pulp Capping

In order to provide the best possible treatment for your patients, it is imperative to ensure that you are using the right supplies and equipment.


Below is a list of essential supplies and equipment for dental pulp capping:


Of course, the materials and equipment that you use during your pulp cap procedures is at your discretion and depends upon your preferences. The Safco Dental team is here to help you select the dental supplies that work best for both you and your patients.


Get Insights on a Variety of Dental Procedures from Safco

Providing your patients with top-tier treatment has never been more achievable. The Safco Dental Supply team is here to provide you with the information, products, and supplies that you need in order to provide your patients with the best possible treatment experience.


With the information you have learned here, you will be well-equipped for providing your patients with the best possible experience during their pulp capping treatment.


For high-quality dental products, place your trust in Safco Dental Supply. We provide a wide range of products to fit every need, with free shipping on orders over $250. From crown and bridge supplies to endodontic supplies, we have you covered.

We strive to get you your products as fast as possible. All orders placed before 4:30 pm CST (3:30 pm on Friday) are shipped out same-day.


Give us a call at 800.621.2178 to speak with one of our experts about dental pulp capping materials.

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