Dental pulp is the soft, living tissue tucked within the tooth itself, beneath the enamel and dentin. The pulp is made up of soft tissues, blood vessels, and bundles of nerves. The pulp chamber can vary in size depending on the size and shapes of teeth and from person to person. This pulp reaches down into the tips of the tooth to the canals most often referred to as nerves, when in fact the entire pulp chamber is a bundle of nerves.
Why Your Tooth Needs Pulp
All of your teeth have pulp beneath the surface. The only time your mouth loses its natural pulp is when your teeth are extracted, when pulp is surgically removed, and when childhood teeth fall out. It is always best to preserve your natural smile as much as possible because your teeth, roots, and gums have specific functions. The primary function of the pulp is the formation of dentin, the hard tissue between the enamel and the pulp.
Dental pulp doesn’t only form dentin, but also serves as the sensory point of the teeth. Extreme heat and cold are manifested as pain by the dental pulp. Temperature, pressure, and trauma to the teeth can be felt because of the pulp beneath the hard surface of the teeth. In response to trauma, healthy pulp will create more dentin.
Problems With Pulp
The common issue with pulp actually occurs with the enamel and dentin, but is felt by the pulp. This happens when a cavity becomes so severe that it reaches the pulp chamber. When tooth decay meets the pulp chamber it can become a painful problem! Cold foods and hot drinks can become an irritant—even breathing cold air can cause pain that might linger. When your tooth pain is severe and associated with pressure or temperatures, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. Your pulp is probably affected by tooth decay that needs to be addressed.
What We Can Do
Your primary dentist can perform a simple exam to discover if your tooth pain is a pulp problem. If it is, and it’s severe enough, your dentist may recommend a root canal in which he or she will remove the affected pulp all the way into the root of the tooth. The pulp chamber is cleaned, disinfected to prevent infection, then filled and sealed to complete the procedure. A root canal is completed with a new crown to protect the weakened tooth.
Preventing Tooth Decay
It’s important to contact your dentist at the first sign of a tooth problem—cavities, tooth or gum pain, and especially severe pain that may point to affected dental pulp. The best way to prevent dental and gum infection and pain is to practice good oral hygiene: daily brushing, flossing, nutritious diet, and adequate water. Routine visits to the dentist are also vital preventative measures to protect your smile. An oral exam and cleaning is recommended annually, but your dentist may recommend closer intervals—every six months for instance. It’s at these routine appointments that your dentist will recognize decay before it reaches your dental pulp. Avoiding this type of decay means avoiding pain and costly repairs.
Preserving your teeth is the goal of your dentist. Let us help you preserve them from the inside out, starting with the pulp.