The pulp or nerve inside a tooth is made up of blood vessels, nerves, and tissue fibers. Once a tooth has fully formed, it no longer relies on this stream of nutrients to help it grow. After the tooth has fully developed, it begins to rely on the tissue surrounding the root to continue providing nutrition throughout its life. Therefore, although not as strong due to its core being somewhat hollowed out, an adult tooth can function as normal after this pulp tissue has been removed, as is done with root canal treatment.
The main cause of an infected pulp is when tooth rot (decay) makes its way from the outer layer of the tooth (enamel) through to the vulnerable pulp tissue living inside the tooth’s root chambers, or when the tooth has been knocked or damaged in some way causing a perfectly healthy pulp to resorbed away or become infected. Accidents aside, needing a root canal treatment is almost completely avoidable with a simple yet structured home care routine of brushing and flossing daily to keep decay away, and regular check-ups at the dentist to catch any small areas of decay and exposed areas of dentine from chips and cracks before bacteria has the chance to penetrate deep inside the tooth.