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What Is the Pulp Cavity?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Perhaps your dental professional has told you that you need some dental work done. Or maybe you're curious about the tooth's inner-workings and how to best take care of your smile. Regardless of the reason, understanding the tooth's anatomy can help you keep your smile healthy. Teeth may look simple from the outside, but their anatomy is surprisingly complex.

Your teeth are made of different layers of tissue, all serving their own purposes. You may be familiar with enamel, the hard outer layer of the tooth and dentin, the sensitive tissue directly underneath the enamel. At the center of the tooth is the pulp cavity. You're probably less familiar with this term and may be wondering, what is the pulp cavity, and why is it important? Let's go over the pulp cavity's functions and parts, dental issues that can affect the pulp cavity, and how to best care for it!

Parts of the Pulp Cavity

Our pulp cavities are critical. They contain the nerves and blood supply that keep our teeth alive. Each cavity includes two parts: the pulp chamber and the root canals. The pulp chamber is the upper section of the cavity contained within the crown of the tooth. The root canals are the lower section of the cavity found within the tooth's roots.

Just like not all of your teeth are the same, not every one of your pulp cavities is the same either! According to a review published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, the number of roots varies from a tooth on the upper jaw (maxillary tooth) to a tooth on the lower jaw (mandibular tooth). The number of root chambers in the pulp cavity varies from tooth to tooth, as well.

Dental Issues Affecting the Pulp Cavity

Since pulp cavities are located deep within the teeth, it's easy to assume that they're immune to dental problems. But in reality, some large cavities and cracks in the teeth can allow bacteria to reach the pulp. This can result in an infection and possibly a pocket of pus called a tooth abscess. Symptoms of a tooth abscess may include a severe toothache, facial swelling, or a fever. If you have signs of a tooth abscess, we recommend seeing your dental professional immediately for treatment.

Cavities and dental trauma aren't the only situations that can affect your pulp cavities. The pulp's blood vessels can become inflamed due to stressors like repeated dental procedures or clenching and grinding the teeth, a condition known as bruxism. Your dental professional can evaluate the affected teeth and recommend the appropriate treatment. In some cases, the pulp inflammation goes away once the source of irritation is gone. In other cases, the pulp has been damaged beyond repair and needs to be removed.

Caring for the Pulp Cavities

There are plenty of preventive measures you can take to keep your pulp cavities healthy, including following a good oral hygiene routine. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day and clean between your teeth once a day with floss, an interdental brush, or another interdental cleaning device. A good oral hygiene routine helps remove food particles and plaque from the teeth, mitigating your chances of developing cavities.

It's also essential to protect your teeth from the trauma that could injure the pulp cavity. An easy way to prevent damage to your teeth is to wear a mouthguard at the appropriate time for your potential vulnerability. For example, if you play sports, wear a sports mouthguard. If you clench your teeth and your dental professional has recommended a bruxism mouthguard, remember to wear it at night.

As always, the key to preventing damage to your teeth (beyond a rigorous at-home oral care routine) is to see your dental professional regularly for checkups. At these visits, your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned to remove plaque and tartar. Your dentist and dental hygienist can also thoroughly examine your teeth for problems like cavities that, if left untreated, could affect the pulp cavity.

Pulp cavities are an essential part of your teeth's structure. Beyond protecting your teeth's enamel and dentin layers, it's helpful to consider your teeth's inner workings. There are several ways to protect the nerves and blood flow within your pulp cavities. Follow a good oral hygiene routine, protect your teeth from potential trauma like grinding or injury, and regularly see your dental professional! While you can't control every possible occurrence that could affect your teeth, taking these preventive measures guarantees you're doing all you can to keep your smile healthy, bright, and pain-free!

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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