What’s the Big Deal about Dental Pulp?
Throughout your dental cleanings and checkups, you’ve probably heard your dentist discuss your dental pulp, but do you really know what that is? While most people could probably tell you that the pulp is found inside of the tooth, their knowledge doesn’t usually extend much further. By better understanding the pulp and the purpose that it serves, you can be a more proactive participant in your dental care.
What is the Dental Pulp?
The dental pulp is the soft area of the tooth found in the center. The nerves of the tooth lie inside of root canals that are found in the roots of the tooth. The root canals are important because they travel from the tip of the root and into the pulp, which contains connective tissues and blood vessels that will nourish the tooth.
The pulp is extremely important for the health of the tooth because it serves as your tooth’s alarm system. Whenever there is a flaw in the tooth or another type of exposure, the pulp can become sensitive. This will signal your brain that something in its environment needs to be altered. As decay begins to encroach on the pulp, your sensation to cold and hot will increase.
While the sensory role of the pulp is certainly important, the pulp also has other important purposes. The pulp will form the dentin of your teeth among other structures. It also supplies both moisture and nutrients to the areas surrounding the tooth while providing added protection.
The pulp can experience certain complications and problems that may require treatment. If the pulp becomes inflamed, a condition known as pulpitis may occur. This can be extremely painful, and in the most serious of cases, a root canal will be needed. When the pulp is severely traumatized, it will begin an inflammatory response. However, since its surroundings are both hard and closed, pressure can build up inside of the pup chamber, causing the nerve fibers to compress and result in extreme pain. At this severe stage, the pulp could die, and this could eventually lead to the formation of an abscess.
When the Pulp Needs to Be Removed
There are some situations in which the dental pulp will need to be removed via a root canal. When the pulp becomes damaged it will break down, allowing bacteria to multiply inside of the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other debris can then cause an abscessed tooth or an infection, resulting in swelling, bone loss around the root tip, and drainage problems.
During a root canal procedure, your tooth will be X-rayed and prepped so that it stays free of saliva during the treatment. Next, an access hoe will be drilled into it, and the pulp will be removed along with bacteria, debris, and the decayed nerve tissue. Root canal files will be used to clean out the tooth, and water or another solution will be used to flush out debris.
After your dentist confirms that all of the pulp and other materials have been adequately removed, the tooth will need to be sealed. A filing is usually put into place to seal the hole, and a crown can be placed on top of the filling in order to best protect the tooth and restore proper structure and function.
After the pulp has been removed, that particular tooth won’t be able to sense cold and hot. However, every other function should perform as usual. If you have questions about the dental pulp and whether or not you are in need of a root canal to repair problems with your teeth, please call our office.