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Pulp is the soft tissue that occupies the hollow central chamber of your tooth. It extends from the crown to the roots and contains tiny blood vessels and a network of nerves. When a tooth dies, it is due to irreversible pulp damage.


Endodontics is the specialization of dentistry that deals with dental pulp issues. It is a Greek word meaning “inside” (Endo) and “odont” (tooth). If a tooth needs saving you will be sent to an endodontist.


Pulp Damage Types


There are a number of ways in which the pulp of tooth can be damaged:


-Undetected tooth decay.

-Gum disease (aka periodontitis)

-Worn down layers on teeth leaving exposed pulp.

-Accidental dentist error when grinding teeth for restoration.

-Cracked, broken or knocked out tooth trauma.


Damage to the pulp can be categorized in two ways, as either reversible or irreversible. This can mean minor sensitivity or total nerve death of the tooth, which could mean an infection in the gum tissues as well.  


Symptoms of Pulp Damage


-Discomfort or pain


-Consistent tooth sensitivity to hot or cold


-Tenderness of the gums

-Discolored teeth

-Other visible signs such as cracks.




Any form of pulp inflammation can be called pulpitis. It can often be reversed, but in situations where infection in the pulp kills the nerve and further infiltrates the root and surrounding tissues, root canal therapy or completely removing the tooth are the only options.


If you’re worried about pulp disease, call Dr. Dean Calpas for more information. Please contact Monticello Dental Center to make an appointment at: 763-263-7100, or come by our office in Big Lake, Minnesota.