A vital pulpotomy is a dental procedure where part of the tooth's nerve tissue is removed. The nerve tissue is removed from the pulp of the tooth. The pulp of the tooth is located above the gum line and contains nerves and blood vessels. By comparison, a root canal is performed when the nerve tissue is damaged all the way to the roots of one's teeth.
This procedure is generally performed on children who have a tooth that has decayed down to the crown part of the pulp, but whose nerves in the root of the tooth are still healthy. A vital pulpotomy is also performed when the pulp of one's tooth has become exposed due to injury or trauma. This procedure removes the unhealthy part of the pulp, while leaving the healthy part in the root intact. A vital pulpotomy removes the decay while keeping the supporting tissues around a tooth intact.