The hard outer surface on your teeth is called the enamel. The pulp is a softer layer deep inside the tooth. The pulp contains the tooth's blood vessels and nerves.
What is pulpitis?
Pulpitis is painful inflammation (swelling) of your tooth pulp.
Pulpitis is usually caused by tooth decay
Injury to your tooth can also cause pulpitis
If treated, mild pulpitis usually gets better with no problems
Pulpitis can lead to infection that can spread to your jaw or other parts of your body
Dentists treat severe pulpitis by doing a root canal or taking out the tooth
What causes pulpitis?
Causes of pulpitis include:
Injury to your tooth from an accident, from grinding your teeth, or sometimes after a lot of dental work on the tooth
What are the symptoms of pulpitis?
Toothache with pain that can be mild and come and go, or be severe and there all the time
Sensitivity to hot or cold food
Sensitivity to pressure on the tooth from chewing
Sometimes pain that you feel in your jaw, ear, or head
Pulpitis that involves infection by bacteria usually causes constant pain. The bacteria may form a collection of pus called an abscess Dental Abscess An abscess is a collection of pus. Pus is a mix of white blood cells, dead tissue, and bacteria. It builds up wherever your body is fighting an infection. A dental abscess is an abscess that... read more . Sometimes the infection can spread to other parts of your body. If you have an abscess, the tooth is very painful and is sensitive to pressure or tapping with a dental tool.
How can dentists tell if I have pulpitis?
Dentists will check your tooth's pulp by:
Testing to see if your tooth is sensitive to hot, sweet, or cold things
Using an electric pulp tester to see if the pulp is alive
Tapping on your tooth to see if the nearby tissue hurts
Doing x-rays to see how far the problem has spread
How do dentists treat pulpitis?
For mild pulpitis, dentists will take out any decay and fill the cavities. Sometimes dentists use a temporary filling with pain medicine in it for 6 to 8 weeks before putting in a permanent one.
If the pulp is badly damaged and can't be healed, dentists will give you pain medicine and either:
Do a root canal to remove the pulp from your tooth and then fill and seal the tooth canal
Take out the tooth if it can't be saved
If you have an infection, they'll also give you antibiotics.