Inside each tooth is an area called the pulp. The pulp contains the blood vessels and nerves for the tooth. Pulpitis is a condition when the pulp of the tooth becomes inflamed due to bacteria invading the pulp and causing it to swell. Pulpitis can cause a tingling sensation or a sharp pain when eating something hot or cold.
The inflammation is usually reversible, but there are times when it isn’t and the pulp can’t heal itself. Either way, a visit to the dentist is necessary. For help finding a local dental professional, search for a dentist near you.
Possible Symptoms of Pulpitis
Both reversible and irreversible pulpitis cause pain in the gums, teeth, jaw and ear, though the pain caused by reversible pulpitis may be milder. Other symptoms include:
Common Causes of Pulpitis
Enamel and dentin surround the pulp of a tooth protecting it from harmful bacteria. When these layers become infected, bacteria can break through to the pulp causing Pulpitis. Common ways surrounding layers can get infected include:
How to Prevent and Treat Pulpitis
Good oral hygiene is the key to preventing pulpitis. Remember to brush twice a day to remove any stains from food and to remove plaque. Floss once a day to remove any buildup between your teeth. Having a professional teeth cleaning by your dentist every 3-6 months will also greatly contribute to a healthy smile and giving your dentist the ability to catch reversible pulpitis before it becomes irreversible.
If you have reversible pulpitis, treating the cause of the inflammation should resolve your symptoms. For example, if you have a cavity, removing the tooth decay and restoring it with a filling should relieve your pain.
If you have irreversible pulpitis, the inflammation does not go away even after treating the cause. Your tooth may then be saved through a procedure called a pulpectomy, which is the first part of a root canal. During a pulpectomy, the pulp is removed and the remaining hollow area inside of the tooth is disinfected, filled, and sealed while the rest of the tooth is left intact.
In some instances, a tooth extraction may be recommended if your tooth cannot be saved due to the severity of the tooth decay or infection.
The only way to determine if you have pulpitis–and if you do, what kind— is by making an appointment with your dentist. They can then review your symptoms, take X-rays, make a diagnosis and give you their recommended treatment plan.
Who Treats Pulpitis?
Treatment of pulpitis is a routine procedure and can often be completed by your general dentist. An endodontist may be recommended when the situation is more complicated. To find a dental office near you, visit our locations page.