You often hear about how important it is to keep your teeth and gums clean, but do you know about pulp disease? The pulp area of your teeth is the soft center, underneath the enamel and dentine. If you don’t practice good dental care, which includes brushing and flossing every day, plaque can form, which not only leads to cavities and possibly gum disease. It can also affect the pulp of your teeth, where blood vessels and nerves reside. If pulp disease is left untreated, you might even lose your teeth. Yikes!
What Are Pulp Disease Symptoms?
Even though you can’t see a tooth’s pulp, there are symptoms of pulp disease that can give you a “heads up” that greater attention is warranted. These can vary in their intensity, but they include:
- Sudden intense mouth pain
- An infection in your mouth
- Tooth pain whenever you eat something hot, cold or sweet
What Are the Different Types of Pulp Diseases?
Do you think you might have a pulp disease? There are different kinds of problems that can affect the pulp of your teeth.
Reverse Pulpitis – This is a mild inflammation of the pulp. If you are just starting to notice pain while eating or drinking cold, hot or sweet foods, it may be possible to step up your dental care and reverse the process. However, a filling might eventually be required. If you happen to break or crack one of your teeth, this condition is also possible. If it’s not treated, this may cause pus and bacteria to form, leading to dental abscess.
Irreversible Pulpitis – This is a more serious inflammation that can’t be cured without a root canal. If that treatment doesn’t work, you may need to have the tooth removed. Your dentist will let you know what steps to take. If you experience sudden intense pain in your teeth, this may be the culprit. See your dentist immediately! If left alone, it may lead to widespread infection of the surrounding gum and connective tissue.
Dental Pulp Calcification – Otherwise known as dental pulp stones, the pulp tissue in the tooth hardens, causing extreme pain and hypersensitive teeth, since the nerves in the tooth have become compressed. Usually the only treatment for this is a root canal, clearing away that calcified tissue.
Dental Pulp Exposure – This is what results when the external portion of the tooth is damaged (due to a crack or cavity) and the pulp is suddenly exposed to food particles and bacteria. Once again, pain is the main symptom, and if this condition is left untreated, it can advance into a more serious tooth abscess. Whether your dentist recommends a filling, root canal or tooth extraction will depend upon how exposed the pulp is.
What Can Be Done About Pulp Disease?
There is a treatment for pulp disease, and it’s not pretty: root canal therapy. In this form of treatment, the damaged pulp tissue is removed so that the infection is unable to spread to other tissue in your mouth. If you ever wonder how serious poor dental care can become, an untreated pulp infection might even spread to your jaw. So, as unpleasant as root canal therapy may be, this can be the best method to stop pulp disease in its tracks.
The root canal procedure, which saves the tooth from extraction, is typically handled over several dentist visits. It begins by removing the diseased pulp and cleaning out and enlarging the space. Your dentist might leave the tooth for a few days to drain, or a temporary filling may be put in. Antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection. At the second appointment, any temporary filling is taken out, replaced with a permanent filling. On your third visit, a crown will be added onto the tooth for reinforcement.
What’s the Takeaway?
Now that you know more about pulp disease, the summary should be obvious: take care of your teeth! While there are procedures to treat this affliction, it is of course better not to have to resort to them in the first place. Pulp disease can be easily avoided with regular brushing and flossing after every meal — or at least twice a day. And then you’ll be able to peacefully enjoy your favorite hot, cold and sweet foods. Bon Appétit!