Where is the nerve of the tooth?
The pulp, or pulp chamber, is the soft area within the center of the tooth. The tooth’s nerve lies within root canals, which lie within the roots, or “legs,” of the tooth. The root canals travel from the tip of the tooth’s root into the pulp chamber, which also contains blood vessels and connective tissues that nourish the tooth.
A tooth’s nerve is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function is sensory – to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.
Why does the nerve need to be removed?
When nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. An abscess occurs when the infection spreads all the way past the ends of the roots of the tooth. In addition to an abscess, an infection in the root canal of a tooth can cause:
- Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head,
- Bone loss around the tip of the root,
- Drainage problems extending outward from the root. A hole can occur through the side of the tooth with drainage into the gums or through the cheek with drainage into the skin.
What damages a tooth’s nerve and pulp in the first place?
Nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth and/or large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face.
What are the signs that I need a root canal?
- Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure,
- Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures (after the heat or cold has been removed),
- Discoloration (a darkening) of the tooth,
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums,
- A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums,
- Sometimes no symptoms are present.