What is inflammation of a tooth’s nerve?
The inflammation of tooth’s nerve (dental pulp) is called pulpitis. Dental pulp contains nerves and blood vessels, so it can nourish the tooth. Toothache can have different causes. Inflammation of soft tissues elsewhere in the body leads to pain, swelling and redness. But dental pulp is surrounded by hard tissues, which can not be spread the same way as the other tissues so the pressure inside the tooth is increasing. The blood flow in the pulp is increasing and immune cells are helping to fight infection. The inflammation in tooth increases the pressure which causes pain. Tooth suddenly becomes more sensitive to external stimuli (breathing cold air, drinking hot and cold beverages or eating some kind of food).
What it means, if the tooth hurts only for short time?
In this case, we can talk about irreversible pulpitis. This is the state of the dental pulp, which is solvable if the cause is removed. It may be due to various factors that irritate the pulp and cause it’s slight inflammation. Harmful stimuli can be tooth decay that hasn’t yet reached the pulp, tooth erosion, grinding of the teeth, tooth trauma, etc. Sometimes there are no symptoms or there can be a sharp pain in the presence of different factors. It may happen that a tooth becomes sensitive, because somewhere on the crown demineralization of tooth’s surface began. In a very early stage it can also remineralise with improved oral hygiene. When this happens, the pain may dissapear. The situation of reversible pulpitis can mostly be solved with a dental filling, dental varnises, better oral hygiene and other treatments.
What it means, if the tooth is hurting for longer period?
This situation may indicate a more severe inflammation of the tooth nerve and we can talk about irreversible pulpitis. This is an insoluble state of dental pulp and therefore requires its removal and the endodontic treatment of the tooth. Tooth may still remain in the mouth, but without a dental pulp, which is what we call “dead tooth”. Irreversible pulpitis is often a continuation of reversible pulpitis. Therefore irreversible pulpitis can happen due to all of the above reasons that cause reversible pulpitis. Irreversible pulpitis may be asymptomatic or it can cause spontaneous severe pain, specially at night. The tooth can be very sensitive to small changes in temperature, such as breathing air of room temperature, etc. Pain often persists even after removal of the stimulus. For example, if we eat ice cream, the pain should stop in 5-10 seconds after we lick ice cream, if it still insists it can be a sign of an irreversible pulpitis. Dental pulp is too inflammed so the tooth nedds to be endodontically treated (root canal treatment).