About Your Tooth

Tooth illustrationYour tooth consists of two main parts, the crown and the root.

The crown is the visible portion above the gum. The root or roots lie beneath the gum and is encased in bone.

Inside each root is a channel that runs the length of the tooth. This channel is the root canal and it houses the pulp (nerves, blood vessels, lymph vessels, and soft tissue). The pulp is often referred to as the “nerve” of the tooth. The pulp may be irreversibly damaged by bacteria associated with decay, very deep fillings, new crowns, grinding/clenching, fractures, trauma, or periodontal ( i.e. “gum“) disease.

In order to keep a tooth that has a damaged “nerve“, it is necessary to remove the diseased pulp tissue by performing endodontic therapy. Root canal treatment is the common term for endodontic therapy. Since endodontic therapy only removes the soft tissue in the canals, the actual hard structure of the root  remains unchanged and the tooth will continue to function normally. It is necessary to remove injured pulp because it may eventually become infected or act as an irritant to the tissues surrounding the tooth.

If left untreated for long enough an irritated pulp will die and a serious infection will develop