Pulpitis refers to the inflammation of the pulp, the soft tissue made of nerves and blood vessels that lies within each tooth. Pulpitis is generally reversible, but irreversible pulpitis, as the name indicates, is not. In this case, the nerve tissue will be considered alive, but the presence of irreversible inflammatory agents will mean that it cannot recover.
Here are four signs that you might be suffering from irreversible pulpitis.
1. Excessive Sensitivity to Hot and Cold
Whether reversible or irreversible, pulpitis often results in an increased flow of blood to the tooth in question, a condition referred to as hyperaemia. With more blood flowing to the pulp, you're likely to find that your teeth are more sensitive. However, sensitivity to both hot and cold foods and drinks is far more commonly associated with irreversible pulpitis; reversible pulpitis will usually only result in an increased sensitivity to cold.
2. Lingering Pain
If you have irreversible pulpitis, you're likely to experience significantly more pain than you do with reversible pulpitis. A continuous ache is quite common, and you may notice swelling around the tooth. The pain will still peak when you chew or place any pressure on the tooth, and the pain will remain strong for a few minutes after the stimulus has been removed.
3. Sensitivity to Pressure
Pressure will usually cause pain when you have pulpitis, but that pain will become exquisitely intense once the pulp has started to become necrotic (when it has begun to actually die). When this has started to occur, you will find that the tooth no longer responds in any way to hot or cold stimuli, but it will become far more sensitive to pressure. This is because infections tend to develop around the tooth, and when this occurs, it will often feel as if the tooth is riding a little higher than normal since resulting abscesses can actually start raising the tooth out of its socket.
4. Tenderness in the Neck, Jaw, or Under the Chin
When an infection is allowed to occur around your tooth due to irreversible pulpitis, it is possible for that infection to spread. The lymph nodes, which are located under the jaw and chin, are particularly likely to develop an associated infection, so you may notice a slight tenderness or sense of swelling across these areas.
Any kind of pulpitis really demands the attention of a dentist, but irreversible pulpitis can be particularly troublesome if not treated quickly. Make sure you book an appointment as soon as possible with an endodontist if any of the signs listed above present themselves.