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An Overview on Pulpitis
October 08, 2019  |  blog

An Overview on Pulpitis

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The innermost layer of the tooth, beneath the enamel and the dentin, is called the pulp. Pulpitis is the bacterial infection of the pulp. This usually occurs when a bacterial infection in the mouth has been left untreated for a long time. The bacteria slowly penetrates the tooth gradually, eventually getting into the pulp.

Some of this infection drips down to the root of the tooth as well. The treatment for pulpitis is known as a root canal treatment. Common questions regarding root canal treatments include:

Do root canals hurt?

Yes, they do! However, the treatment hurts much less than the pain caused due to the infection in the first place, as per an article published by Colgate.

What is the procedure for a root canal treatment?

At first, the dentist would take an X-Ray of the mouth to find out the spots in the pulp and root affected by the infection. Following this, a hole will be drilled all the way down the tooth, and the infected nerves and the debris will be taken out. A local anesthetic would be given to you before the drilling and cleaning process.

The cleaning would be done with the help of root canal files. The cavity would be rinsed and washed to put away residual debris. A sealant is then used to seal the cavity. On the next appointment, a dental filling will fill the hole drilled on the outside of the tooth.

Are there any alternatives to root canal treatment? 

The most viable alternative to a root canal treatment is tooth extraction. However, unless you want to be toothless, you must also get an implant or crown, following tooth extraction! Tooth extraction is the only surgical solution to pulpitis since it takes the infected tooth out.

These infections occur so deep in the tooth that they are often undetected before the infection becomes severe enough to call for a root canal. However, the following are the 5 common signs of pulpitis that you must not ignore:

  • Fever is a common symptom of pulpitis, just like in the case of any other major infection in the body. To get rid of the germs, the immunity system of the body tends to raise the body temperature to fight off and kill the germs. You are likely to experience a mild fever during pulpitis. You may even experience a high fever if the infection is too severe.

  • Swollen lymph nodes are also a symptom of pulpitis that is related to the immunity system of the body. The lymph nodes in our bodies produce lymphatic fluids that fight off bacteria and other infective germs. Therefore, with a severe infection within the pulp of your tooth, your lymph nodes are likely to become hyperactive, and consequently, swell up. Usually, the lymph nodes on the sides of your neck are the ones that visibly swell.

  • You are likely to experience increased sensitivity to hot and cold in one particular tooth. The pulp in your tooth contains a network of sensory nerves. Upon infection, these nerves become damaged and weak, which is why they become more sensitive to temperatures. You may also experience increased sensitivity in one particular tooth to sweet food. This is because sweet foods have Glycine and Alanine that stimulate the nerves.

  • Bad breath is one of the core symptoms of pulpitis. If you keep brushing and flossing regularly, but the bad taste and breath from your mouth do not subside, you must consult a dentist/endodontist. The bad breath comes from the infection within the pulp. However, you should not treat this single symptom as a sing that you may have pulpitis, since a persistent bad breath may even be related to smoking.

  • Bleeding gums are one of the other signs of pulpitis. This happens when the infection is too severe. The gums become so badly infected that they start to bleed. You can sometimes spot blood when you spit but have no idea where the blood came from; you can locate no cut or injuries in your mouth. That is when you should look for a dentist/endodontist nearby.

Now that you know the signs, do you believe that you have pulpitis? Perhaps you can prevent it by maintaining proper oral hygiene. However, if your tooth is already infected, no amount of brushing or flossing is ever going to cure it and you must seek an endodontist right away!