Tooth Sensitivity And Pulpitis: The Hidden Connection

1 September 2016
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


A sensitive or achy tooth is enough to send most people into a quiet state of panic. This panic is often exacerbated by a lack of understanding about the various factors that contribute to tooth sensitivity. If you would like to learn more about why your tooth has been feeling sensitive lately, read on. This article will explore the connection between a sensitive tooth and the dental condition known as pulpitis.

Pulp's Role

Teeth aren't just insensate excretions like fingernails and hair. Rather they are an active part of your body's living system. Dental pulp, which is the living tissue inside of your teeth, is responsible for supplying your tooth with the various nutrients it needs. Thus dental pump encompasses such physiological elements as nerve tissue, living cells, and blood vessels.

When Pulp Gets Sick

As a living part of your body, dental pulp is susceptible to a range of bacterial infections, generally referred to as pulpitis. When a tooth succumbs to pulpitis, your body's immune system kicks in, sending extra blood to the pulp to help fight off the infection. That extra blood causes the pulp to become inflamed. As a result, pressure inside the tooth increases, leading to a correlated increase in sensitivity.

In most cases, the bacterial infection at the root of pulpitis is tied to cavities and other varieties of tooth decay.  Here the cavity acts as a literal gateway to your vulnerable pulp. As the infection takes hold, symptoms like throbbing, sensitivity, and even pain will start to occur. Likewise, you may find that your lymph nodes are swollen and tender.

Treating Pulpitis

In theory, your body's natural immune response should be enough to overcome mild cases of pulpitis, leading to a gradual decrease in the symptoms over the course of a few days. This type of pulpitis often goes by the logical name of reversible pulpitis. To help ease the discomfort associated with reversible pulpitis, your dentist may chose to recommend a desensitizing toothpaste or mouthwash.

There is also the chance that pulpitis, like infections occurring anywhere within your body, may prove resistant to your natural immune response. Here antibiotics may be prescribed to help thwart the bacterial infection. Cases of pulpitis that progress to a serious enough degree may no longer be treatable at all.

Such cases are known as irreversible pulpitis. Infections of this sort can only mean one thing: that the pulp at the center of your tooth will ultimately die. To prevent this decaying tissue from causing additional problems, your dentist will likely suggest that a root canal be performed.

For more information, contact Larchmont Dental Arts LLC or a similar location.