The pulp is the soft tissue in the hollow inner core of the tooth, where the nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue, and reparative cells are located. These work to channel vital nutrients and oxygen to the tooth. There are several ways in which pulp can be damaged. Most commonly in children, it is traumatic injury or tooth decay, and that can lead to painful pulp exposure and inflammation.
There are two types of pulp therapy: vital and non-vital. The goal of vital pulp therapy is to maintain health and function of the dental pulp, in order to preserve the primary tooth until the permanent tooth erupts. In non-vital pulp therapy, the pulp is either dead or is so diseased or damaged that it cannot be saved, and the goal is to remove the diseased tissue and save the tooth (called a pulpectomy in children, a root canal treatment in adults).