The Pulp of a Tooth
Pulp is the technical name for the nerves, tiny blood vessels and connective tissue that make up the center of a tooth. People generally refer to the pulp as “the nerve” of the tooth because of its sensitivity when it's exposed. Through tiny openings in the tips of the roots of the teeth, the vessels and nerves in the pulp connect with the arteries, veins and nerves of the jaw, and on to the circulatory and nervous systems of the body.
The pulp is essential to a healthy tooth: it provides the nutrients that contribute to the ongoing formation of dentin, the highly calcified material that accounts for some 75 percent of the bulk of a tooth. As a person ages, the pulp decreases in size. If the pulp becomes infected and dies, the dentin does not get the nutrition it needs. Gradually it will dry up and the tooth will become brittle. If the dead pulp is not removed through root canal therapy, the tooth may turn yellow, gray or black. One of the goals of a good oral hygiene program is to prevent decay of the enamel and dentin that protect the tooth's pulp.