Each tooth has a central area called the pulp and which contains the nerves and blood supply for the tooth. Pulpitis occurs when the pulp becomes painfully inflamed and can affect one or more teeth.
What Causes Pulpitis?
It is caused when the bacteria in the mouth get into the pulp, creating swelling. When a tooth is strong and healthy, the pulp is protected by layers of enamel and dentin. Pulpitis develops when these layers become damaged. Damage can occur if a tooth has an untreated cavity or severe acid erosion or has become injured. Other possible causes include:
- A tooth fracture can expose the dental pulp.
- Oral habits like tooth grinding and clenching (bruxism), or dental problems such as jaw misalignment can cause trauma to teeth, eventually wearing or cracking them and exposing the dental pulp.
- Poor oral hygiene habits increase the risk of tooth decay, and potentially pulpitis.
- Consuming a diet that is high in sugary foods or refined carbohydrates also promotes tooth decay.
There are two types of pulpitis.
What is Reversible Pulpitis?
Reversible pulpitis is when the inflammation is mild, and the dental pulp is still healthy, and we can try to save it.
What is Irreversible Pulpitis?
Pulpitis is irreversible if the inflammation is severe and is causing other symptoms such as pain. Irreversible pulpitis can potentially cause an infection called a periapical abscess. A periapical abscess is an infection in the tooth root, and which creates a pocket of pus. Without treatment, a periapical abscess can create a further infection that spreads to other parts of the body. The infection can affect the sinuses, the jaw, or can become life-threatening if it reaches the brain.
What are the Symptoms of Pulpitis?
Both reversible and irreversible pulpitis can cause pain, although when the inflammation and infection are milder, the pain may only occur during eating. Other symptoms include increased sensitivity to hot, cold, and very sweet or sour foods. Irreversible pulpitis can cause other symptoms such as bad breath or a nasty taste, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.
When you visit Gentle Dental, we can examine your teeth and, if necessary, will take dental x-rays to determine the decay and inflammation in the tooth. We may conduct a sensitivity test by exposing the tooth to hot and cold stimuli. Gently tapping the tooth can also help identify signs of inflammation. At this stage, we can assess if the pulpitis is reversible.
How is Pulpitis Treated?
Pulpitis treatment depends on whether we can save your tooth. If you have reversible pulpitis, we can treat the cause of the inflammation, which should help to eliminate the symptoms. A typical treatment may involve filling a cavity in a tooth, removing a damaged or decayed portion of the tooth, and restoring it with a filling.
Irreversible pulpitis can require more specialized care. If there is a chance that we can save your tooth, you may need an endodontic procedure called a pulpectomy, which is a little similar to a root canal treatment. During a pulpectomy, we remove the tooth pulp in the crown of the tooth, leaving the rest of the tooth intact. The tooth is then disinfected, sealed, and restored.
When a tooth has died, we may have to remove the entire tooth and tooth. Tooth removal is always our last resort as we try very hard to preserve patients’ natural teeth.
Our general dentists here at Gentle Dental can discuss all pulpitis treatment options suitable for your situation. For more information about the best treatment for pulpitis in Queens, contact Gentle Dental at (718) 461-0100.