What is pulpitis?

Pulpitis is the most common cause of dental pain and loss of teeth in younger persons. Pulpitis is inflammation of the pulp (the inside of a tooth) and the nearby tissues that surround the root of the tooth. It may be acute or chronic, with or without symptoms, and reversible or irreversible in long-lasting conditions.

Pulpitis can sometimes be confused with other conditions:

  • Calcified canals
  • Immature apex – usually seen in young patients
  • Teeth trauma
  • Premedication of the patient – pulp sedated

How common is pulpitis?

This health condition is quite common. It commonly affects patients with poor oral hygiene and patients with medical incision in oral cavity.

It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of pulpitis?

The common symptoms of reversible pulpitis are:

  • Pain quality: pain is usually sharp and intense.
  • Duration: short duration (pain remains for 5-10 minutes). Quickly subsides after removal of the stimuli.
  • Stimuli: reaction to hot, cold or sweet with immediate onset.
  • Body position: unaffected by changes in position of the body.

Typically, it may develop as a progression from a reversible state –more common severe insults of one of the causes. Symptoms of irreversible pulpitis are:

  • Pain quality: throbbing pain
  • Duration: spontaneous pain which may last from minutes to hours.
  • Stimuli: reaction to hot, cold or sweet with immediate onset.

On the early stage, pain may develop spontaneously or from a hot or cold stimuli.

Late stage, the pain occurs only to hot but relived by cold.

  • Body position: pain is affected by body position.
  • Site and radiation: in the latter stages the periodontal ligament becomes involved and the pain will be localized.
  • Timing: the pain worsen at night.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. A chronic condition of pulpitis can have a rapid onset of pain, tenderness of the tooth, palpation, pus formation, and swelling of the tissues that can be confused with an acute condition.

Pulpitis can also be associated with a number of systemic disorders. These include fever of unknown origin, bacteremic seeding of heart valve and prosthetic devices, preterm birth of low birth weight children, and an increased risk for coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular events.

If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following of acute condition of Pulpitis:

  • The pain not localized in the affected tooth is constant and throbbing. It is worse by reclining or lying down.
  • The tooth simply becomes painful with hot or cold stimuli. It may be sharp or stabling.
  • Change of color is obvious in the affected tooth.
  • Swelling of the gum or face in the area of the affected tooth.


What causes pulpitis?

You may experience a toothache if,

  • There is decay
  • There is gum disease
  • There is food impacted in your gum
  • If your tooth has suffered trauma
  • There is a crack in your filling or tooth
  • If you have sinusitis

The roots of your molar teeth lie close to your sinus, a pulp infection could result in these teeth being tender on biting

  • There is underlying pathology of your bone e.g. Tumor or cysts
  • There is no identifiable cause but there is chronic, distressing pain related to a tooth ( atypical toothache)

Risk factors

What increases my risk for pulpitis?

There are many risk factors for pulpitis similar with those risk factors in cavities, such as:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • A diet high in sugar
  • Eating too hot food and having too cold drink or combining them in one meal.
  • Risk factors that due to etiologies of pulpitis.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is pulpitis diagnosed?

Pulpitis can be diagnosis with the following tests:

  • Percussion tests
  • Palpation tests
  • Thermal sensitivity; necrotic pulp will not respond to cold or hot in Cold test-Heat test.
  • Electric pulp testing
  • Radiographs

How is pulpitis treated?

The diagnosis of reversible pulpitis implies that the pulp is capable of full recovery if the irritating factors subside or are removed:

  • Remove any caries present, and place suitable pulp protection and then permanent restoration places.
  • Treatment of irreversible pulpitis involves either root canal therapy or extraction of the tooth.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage pulpitis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with pulpitis:

  • Avoiding too hot or too cold meals
  • Improve your oral hygiene by brushing your teeth after each meal but do not abusing it causing reverse effects.
  • Healthy diet with proper carb level.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: February 19, 2017 | Last Modified: March 8, 2017

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