In medical terms, debridement is the removal of damaged tissue and/or foreign objects from a wound. In dentistry pulpal debridement, also referred to as a pulpectomy or partial root canal, is an endodontic treatment for the removal of diseased or damaged pulp tissue, the soft area at the center of a tooth which contains the blood vessels, nerves, and pink connective tissue.
Pulpal debridement is the first step of a root canal treatment where all of the pulp tissue is removed, or in the case of a partial root canal, it is done before a complete root canal treatment can be completed, in order to relieve serious pain caused by swelling from an infection of the dental pulp and nerve. This relieves pressure and pain by providing room for the dental pulp to expand. However, the complete root canal treatment must still be done, can be, and almost always is done in one visit, because a root canal is the only way to save the tooth.