Let’s Talk Tooth Pulp and Tooth Nerves: How Teeth Become Damaged

Most people don’t really understand what an endodontist does until they are referred to one by their general dentist. If you look it up, you might find that an endodontist specializes in treating conditions that affect your tooth pulp and tooth nerves. For many, though, that doesn’t really clear things up, so here is a little more information that will explain the basics of dental health:

What is Tooth Pulp and Why Teeth Have Nerves?

  • Tooth Pulp: Basically, tooth pulp is the inside of your tooth, the part you never see. It consists of soft connective tissue that holds the blood vessels and nerves that keep your tooth alive.
  • Tooth Nerves: Tooth nerves are in the root or your tooth. They are the part that is responsible for sensation, and pain. Root canals containing blood and nerves travel from the pulp chamber into the underlying root and gum structure.

Most of the time these tooth elements function nicely together, and you are able to enjoy pain-free eating and smiling. However, when you have damaged teeth, you can experience pain that might not make you feel like smiling. Teeth can become damaged in many ways that can affect not just the crown, or the part you see, but also the underlying pulp and nerves.

You might have tooth decay that has led to a deep cavity or abscess which has eaten its way into the inner portions of your tooth. Perhaps you were involved in an automobile accident or sports injury that has caused a traumatic injury to your teeth. You may have a cracked tooth, chipped tooth, or split tooth that is exposing the inner structure. Some patients grind their teeth to the point that it affects the pulp and nerves. No matter what caused your damaged teeth, leaving them untreated can result in pain, infection and tooth loss.

How Does an Endodontist Treat Damaged Teeth?

Unfortunately, some people think that the only way to deal with damaged teeth is to have them pulled, but that does not have to be true. Except for the most severe cases, an endodontist works to save damaged teeth so they don’t have to pulled, and restore your charming smile:

  • Root Canal: In a surprising number of cases of damaged teeth, a non-surgical root canal is often all that is required to avoid pulling a tooth with injured pulp. This one simple treatment might be all that is needed to save your natural teeth so you will not need dental implants or dental bridges. In this procedure, your Charlotte endodontist will remove the injured pulp and thoroughly clean the root canal system. At Ballantyne Endodontics, we offer a special type of root canal called the GentleWave® Procedure. Instead of the traditional series of root cleaning instruments, this procedure uses an advanced combination of fluid dynamics and a broad range of soundwaves to reach into the microscopic spaces and remove bacteria, debris and tissue.
  • Apicoectomy: On occasion, our endodontist will employ a surgical technique called an apicoectomy, or root-end resection, to locate canals or fractures that are hidden in x-rays but can still cause a great deal of pain. We may also treat damaged root surfaces or the surrounding bone with this procedure.

In children, your endodontist may use apexogenesis (a form of pulp therapy) to heal or remove the pulp and improve the chances of saving the immature tooth, so that they can still develop a healthy adult smile.

We’ve now addressed how teeth can become damaged and how your endodontist may treat your dental issue. Have additional questions about your damaged teeth? Our team of experts will conduct a thorough exam to determine the best course of treatment to restore your beautiful smile. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.