The pulp is the neurovascular bundle central to each tooth, permanent or primary. It comprises a central pulp chamber, pulp horns, and radicular canals. The large mass of pulp is contained within the pulp chamber, which is contained in and mimics the overall shape of the crown of the tooth. Because of the continuous deposition of dentine, the pulp chamber becomes smaller with age. This is not uniform throughout the coronal pulp but progresses faster on the floor than on the roof or sidewalls.
Radicular pulp canals extend down from the cervical region of the crown to the root apex. They are not always straight but vary in shape, size, and number. They are continuous with the periapical tissues through the apical foramen or foramina.
The total volume of all the permanent teeth organs is 0.38cc and the mean volume of a single adult human pulp is 0.02cc.
Accessory canals are pathways from the radicular pulp. These canals, which extend laterally through the dentin to the periodontal tissue, are seen especially in the apical third of the root. Accessory canals are also called lateral canals because they are usually located on the lateral surface of the roots of the teeth.
The pulp has a background similar to that of dentin because both are derived from the dental papilla of the tooth germ. During odontogenesis, when the dentin forms around the dental papilla, the innermost tissue is considered pulp.
There are 4 main stages of tooth development:
1. Bud stage
2. Cap stage
3. Bell stage
4. Crown stage
The first sign of tooth development is known to be as early as the 6th week of intrauterine life. The oral epithelium begins to multiply and invaginates into ectomesenchyme cells which gives rise to dental lamina. The dental lamina is the origin of the tooth bud. The bud stage progresses to the cap stage when the epithelium forms the enamel organ. The ectomesenchyme cells condense further and become dental papilla. Together the epithelial enamel organ and ectomesenchymal dental papilla and follicle form the tooth germ. The dental papilla is the origin of dental pulp. Cells at the periphery of the dental papilla undergo cell division and differentiation to become odontoblasts. Pulpoblasts form in the middle of the pulp. This completes the formation of the pulp. The dental pulp is essentially a mature dental papilla.
The development of dental pulp can also be split into two stages: coronal pulp development (near the crown of the tooth) and root pulp development (apex of the tooth).
The pulp develops in four regions from the periphery to the central pulp:
Cell-free zone – likely to be an artefact