Pulp Responses to Precise Thermal Stimuli in Dentin-Sensitive Teeth


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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine whether pulpal responses to cold temperatures applied to enamel, using a method that precisely controls the intensity of the cold stimulus or measures the response time, could distinguish dentin-sensitive teeth from nonsensitive teeth. Eighteen human subjects were stimulated with cold temperatures decreasing in 5°C intervals (and with tetrafluoroethane) on exposed root and enamel of a dentin-sensitive tooth and enamel of a contralateral nonsensitive tooth. Pain threshold, intensity of pain, time to pain onset, and duration of pain at baseline, 4 h, 8 h, and 1 week were measured. Responses to enamel stimulation of sensitive teeth compared with the nonsensitive teeth usually were highly correlated and not significantly different. The exception was a longer duration of pain in the dentin-sensitive teeth (4.62 ± 0.47 s) compared with nonsensitive teeth (2.92 ± 0.49 s; p = 0.016) after enamel stimulation with tetrafluoroethane. Longitudinal studies are necessary to determine whether these slight increases in pain duration indicate an increased probability of pulpal degeneration or need for dentin protection.

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