The dental pulp is the soft tissue inside the canal or channel that runs through the root of your tooth. The dental pulp consists mainly of blood vessels, tissue fibers and some nerve fibers. The main function of the dental pulp is to regulate the growth and development of the tooth during childhood. Once the tooth is fully formed, nutrition for the tooth comes from the tissues surrounding the root. Which means a tooth can function without its pulp (nerve) and, in the majority of cases, can be kept permanently. After root canal treatment the tooth is pulpless, but it is not a dead tooth.
The most common cause of pulp damage is deep tooth decay, which allows bacteria to reach the pulp. The pulp may then become inflamed or infected. Products of infection may then spread through the opening at the tip of the root into the surrounding bone – an abscess could result and this may cause pain and swelling. Other causes of pulp damage include: traumatic blows to teeth, leakage around old or loose fillings, excessive wear of teeth, and cracked teeth. These processes can also lead to the infection of the pulp.
By removing the infected pulp, cleaning and shaping the root canals, the dentist relieves inflammation and any discomfort. The root canals can then be filled and sealed. Afterwards, you return back to your dentist, who places a crown or other restoration over the remaining tooth to protect it. Once restored, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.