Literally the most vital part of the tooth, the pulp originates in the center of the tooth, underneath the enamel layer and dentin layer, in the pulp chamber. The pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissue, and large nerves. The pulp, also commonly referred to as the nerve, branches out and continues down each root through the canals of the tooth and stops just shy of the apex, or tip of the tooth.
The pulp has several functions, such as:
- Sensory Function - Pain from trauma to the dentin and/or pulp, differences in temperature, and pressure are caused by stimulation of the pulp.
- Formation of Dentin - The pulp is responsible for the formation of dentin. In response to trauma, the pulp forms secondary dentin, also known as reparative dentin.
- Nourishment - The pulp contains blood vessels that help to prevent the tooth from becoming brittle by keeping it moisturized and nourished.
Inflammation of the pulp from tooth decay, infection, trauma, and/or various related causes results in a condition known as pulpitis. Root canal therapy is a dental procedure that is preformed to remove the pulp from the tooth when pulpitis has become irreversible or the pulp is dead. Once removed from the tooth, the pulp will not regenerate inside the tooth, and the tooth becomes non-vital (dead).