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Saturday, November 26, 2011
What is Irreversible Pulpitis ?
In health classes in the US and in Europe, we might be good at talking about nutrition, or sex education, or smoking avoidance, but we don't talk much about dental health, other than talking about the manner in which we should brush and floss. There it ends. This is a problem, because in a short course we really could impact students in making better choices with regard to dental health, and better choices when it's time to take action. First of all, your dental health is not divorced from your general health. People with decay have higher available amounts of bacteria traveling in their bloodstreams which can migrate to their hearts. This can cause an irritation in plaque in their hearts and result in heart attack, or it can cause an endocarditis, and a much more rapid death. In addition, we know that people who bite down on real teeth have better cranial circulation than those who bite down on false teeth, and so this is an added incentive to keeping healthy teeth as long as is practical. Many things are just not covered in school, and one of those things which should be is something called irreversible pulpitis.
Most of us have known a toothache at one time or another. The pain of irreversible pulpitis is different. It is a severe pain in which narcotics can be ineffective. It also awakens the patient at night. The pain begins at the tooth itself and then refers to neighboring teeth and then eventually to the entire side of that patient's mouth. These patients may be so heat and cold sensitive that even a breath of air can leave them writhing in pain for perhaps an hour. Dentists agree that the only intervention, at that point, is to either endodontically treat, which means to remove the root, fill the entire tooth and to eventually recap to protect it. (In common speech, a root canal plus crown or capping) However, many of us choose simply to pull the diseased tooth. We need to know what irreversible pulpitis is, not only in order to avoid it, but to seek treatment when it does occur. This is a dental emergency in which the patient could actually lose track of having medicated himself for pain, and could actually die from inadvertent pain medication overdose. If not treated, the patient can develop a septicemia and may possibly die without treatment or experience some of the cardiac complications I mentioned. A woman I met in a bereavement group several years ago lost an adult son to a tooth infection which was improperly managed at a hospital emergency room.
Here are some references:
To be truly well prepared for other emergencies, we need to maintain good dental health and to establish an alliance with a trusted dentist, even if we have no dental insurance, and little money.