Dental inflammation or pulpitis is an inflammation that affects the dental pulp and it can be caused by tooth decay that has been left untreated for too long. Patients with dental inflammation often complain about a sharp, pulsating pain, which appears when the decay works its way through the enamel and dentin, and reaches the nerves and blood vessels. This is when the pain intensifies and acute pulpitis occurs as a result of bacteria infecting the nerves.

Inflammation of the tooth is a longer process that starts out with a dental caries appearing on the enamel (outside layer of the tooth), then progresses to the dentin (the layer just below the dentin), and then reaches the centre of the teeth. While still on the enamel or the dentin, tooth decay is painless, however, once it reaches the core of your tooth, the pain is often described by patients as resembling a whip of lash. Patients find it difficult to cope with the pain, so usually they seek immediate medical care. The dentist will remove the tooth decay and will treat the root canals. As tooth decay is an underlying cause of dental inflammation, it is preventable if tooth decay problems are dealt with as soon as they appear.

Pulpitis can also occur if a tooth suffers a trauma and the blood supply to the pulp is disrupted, or in cases where a tooth requires several invasive procedures. Pulpitis can be reversible or irreversible. Reversible pulpitis resolves itself once the cause is removed and it is not excessively painful. Irreversible pulpitis is a severe inflammation of the dental pulp and the only way to treat it is to perform a root canal treatment or extract the tooth.

When patients don’t go to the dentist following an inflammation or they go too late, dental follicles occur. Patients decide to treat the pain with painkillers, which stop the pain. Unfortunately, the tooth can die off, but the bacteria continues to travel through the bone tissue, causing further inflammation at the roots of teeth. This inflammation may be painless or cause pain only if patients bite on these teeth. A strong immune system of a healthy adult can deal with such an inflammation; however, the inflammation can be potentially life threatening if it spreads to surrounding tissue, causing swelling, fever and excruciating pain. In these cases, it is imperative that patients go to a dentist immediately.

Preventative measures for both tooth inflammation and dental follicles are the same measures that are recommended for preventing tooth decay. This means that patients must clean their teeth at least two times a day, floss or use interdental toothbrushes in addition to just simply brushing their teeth. Patients who are more prone to plaque formation can see a dental hygienist to remove plaque and tartar, and to perform preventative checks. Limiting the consumption of sweet foods or sour foods can also decrease the risk of developing caries. If you experience discomfort or pain, or you find caries or your filling falls out, don’t postpone going to your dentist.