DEPARTMENT OF ORAL MEDICINE
RADIOLOGY & DIAGNOSIS
PULP VITALITY TEST WITH
ASWATHY SIVADAS .P
REG.No : 54084008
Vivekananda Dental College For Women
• PULP VITALITY TESTS
• VISUAL AND TACTILE INSPECTION
• MOBILITY AND DEPRESSIBILITY
• THERMAL TESTING
• ELECTRICAL TEST
• SPECIAL TESTS
• BITE TEST
• STAINING AND TRANSILLUMINATION
• SELECTIVE ANAESTHESIA
• TEST CAVITY
• LASER DOPPLER FLOW METRY
• PULSE OXIMETRY
• DISEASSES OF PULP
Pulp vitality test is crucial in monitoring the state of health of dental pulp,
especially after traumatic injuries. The traditional pulp testing methods such as
thermal and electric pulp testing methods depend on the innervation and often
yield false positive and negative response. The newer pulp testing devices, some
of which are still under development stage, detect the blood supply of the pulp,
through light absorption and reflection, are considered to be more accurate and
PULP VITALITY TESTS
Visual and tactile inspection
Simple clinical test
Colour - discoloration of tooth associates with necrotic,
Pulps internal & external, resorption carious resorption
CONTOUR - fractures
CONSISTENSY - relates to presence of caries
Evaluate status of periodontium surrounding tooth
• By using handle of instrument, to determine whether tooth is tender
• Vertical percussion - apical periodontitis
• Horizontal percussion - chronic periododintis
• Done with fingertip using light pressure to examine tissue
consistency & pain response.
• Determining -
Whether tissue is fluctuant & enlarged
Intensity & location of pain
Presence & location of adenopathy
Presence of bone crepitus
Mobility and depressibility
MOBILITY TEST -to evaluate integrity of attachment apparatus
Moving tooth laterally in its socket by using fingers or handles of
DEPRESSIBILITY TEST - moving tooth vertically in its socket
endodontic tratment should not be carried out on teeth with
third degree mobility
• To use radiographs properly , clinician must have knowledge & skills
• To interpret them correctly
• Through understanding of normal anatomical structures &
occur due to aging , trauma , healing
• Contain information on presence of caries that may involve pulp or
not Radiographs may show number ,course ,length ,& width of root
• Presence of calcified material in root canal
• Internal resorption
• External resorption
• Calcification or obliteration of pulp cavity
• Thickening of periodontal ligament
• Nature & extent of periapical &alveolar bone destruction
Thermal Pulp Test
• Various methods
and materials have been used to test the pulp ‘s
response to thermal stimuli.
• The baseline or normal response to either hot or cold is a patient’s report
that a sensation is felt but disappear immediately upon removal of the
thermal stimulus .
• Heat testing is most useful when a patients complaint is intense dental
pain upon contact with any hot liquid or food.in instances where a
patients is unable to identify which tooth is sensitive ,a heat test is
• Starting with the most posterior tooth in that area of the mouth , each
tooth is individually isolated with the rubber dam.
• An irrigating syringe is filled with a liquid that has a temperature similar
to that which would cause the painful sensation.
• The liquid is then express from the syringe onto the isolated tooth to
determine whether the response is normal or abnormal.
• The tooth will exhibit an immediate , intense painful responds to the
heat.with the heat testing a delayed response may occur ,so waiting 1o
seconds between each heat test will allow sufficient for any onset or
symptoms.another metho for heat testing is applie heated gutta –
purcha.or compound stick to the surface of the tooth.
• If this method is used, a light layer of lubricant should be placed onto the
tooth surface prior to applying the heated material to prevent the hot
gutta purcha or compound from adhering to the dry tooth surface.
• Cold is the primary pulp testing method for many practitioners today.
• Cold testing should be used in conjunction with the electric pulp tester so
that results from one test will verify the findings of the other test.
• It can be accomplished similarly to heat testing by individually isolating
teeth with a rubber dam.
• Another benefit of this technique for cold testing is that it requires no
armamentarium except for a rubber dam.
• If a clinician choose to perform this test with sticks of ice , then the
use of the rubber dam is recommended because melting ice will run
onto adjacent teeth and gingiva, yielding potentially false positive
• Frozen carbon dioxide (co2)also known as dry ice or carbon dioxide
snow, has been found to very reliable in eliciting a positive response if
vital pulp tissue is present in the tooth. Carbon dioxide has also been
found to be effective in evaluating the pulp response in teeth with full
coverage crowns for which electric pulp testing is not possible.
• For testing purposes a solid stick of co2 gas into a specially design
• The resulting co2 is stick is applied to the facial surface of either natural
tooth structure or crown.several tooth can be tested with single stick.
• The tooth should be isolated with a 2*2gauze or cotton.so co2 will not
come into contact with these structures.
• The most popular method of testing is with a refrigerant spray.
• It is readily available and easy to use,and provides test result that are
reproducible, reliable and equivalent to that co2 .
• The current product contain 1,1,1,2-tetrafluroethane,which has zero
ozone depletion potential and is environmentally safe.
• It has temperature -26.2c .
• The spray is most effective or testing purpose when it is applied to the
tooth on large #2 cotton pellete.
• The sprayed cotton pellete should be applied to the midfacial of the Crown.
• The sensitivity which is the ability of a test to identify teeth that are
diseased , was 0.83 for cold and 0.86 for heat and 0.72 for the electric test.
• This means the cold test correctly identified 83% of the teeth that had
anecrotic pulp while heat test where correct 86% of the time and
electric pulp test were correct only 72% of the time.
REFRIGERATOR SPRAY CONTAINER
A COTTON ROLL CAN BE USED TO FORM A LARGE COTTON PELLET
Electric Pulp Test
• Assessment of the pulp vitality test with is most frequently accomplished
by electric pulp testing or cold testing.
• The vitality of the pulp is determined by the intactness and health of the
the vascular supply, not the status of the pulpal nerve fibres.
• Even though advances are being made with regard to determine the
vitality of the pulp regard to the blood supply, this technology is not
accurate enough to be used on a routine basis in clinical setting
• The electric pulp tester has limitations in providing information about the
ELECTRI PULP TESTER
• The response of the pulp
to electric testing is not
reflecting the histologic
health status of the pulp.
• A response by the pulp to the electric current only denotes that some
viable nerve fibres are present in the pulp and are capable of responding.
• The lack of response has been found most frequently when an electric
pulp is present.
• The electric pulp tester will not work unless the probe can be placed in
contact with the natural tooth.
• With the advent of universal precautions for infection control, the patient
may be required to place a finger on the tester probe to complete the
electric circuit for the models, however lip clips are an alternative to
having patients hold the tester.
• The use of rubber gloves prevents the clinician from completing the
• purpose use of the electric pulp tester requires that the tooth to be
evaluated be isolated and dried.
• A control tooth of similar tooth type and location in the arch should be
tested first in order to establish a base line response and to inform the
patients with a normal sensations.
• The suspected tooth should be tested at least twice to confirm the results.
• The tip of the testing probe that will be placed in contact with the tooth
structure must be coated with the water or petroleum based media.
• The most commonly used media is toothpaste.
• The coated probe tip is placed in the incisal third of buccal or facial area
of the tooth to be tested.
• once the probe is contact with the tooth the patient is asked to touch the
• This completes the circuit and initiates the delivery of electric current to
• The patient is instructed to remove his or her finger from the probe when
a tingling or warming sensation is felt in the tooth.
• The readings from the pulp tester are recorded and will be evaluated once
all the appropriate teeth have been tested and the result obtained from
other pulp testing methods.
• If a complete coverage crown or extensive restoration is present, a
bridging technique can be attempted to deliver current to any exposed
natural tooth structure.
• The tip of the endodontic explorer is coated with tooth paste or other
appropriate media and placed in contact with the natural tooth.
• The tip of the electric pulp tester probe is coated with a small amount of
tooth paste and placed in contact with the side of the explorer.
• However, unlike electric pulp testing, cold testing can reveal the health
and integrity of pulp tissue response.
• Until such time that testing method used to assess the vascular supply of
the pulp become less time consuming and technique sensitive to thermal
and electric pulp testing will continue to be the primary methods for
determining pulp vitality.
PULP NERVE TESTER
• Identifying cracked tooth or fractured cusp
• It also helpful in diagnosing cases where in pulpal pathosis is
extended to periradicular region causing apical periodontitis
• Tooth slooth & Frac Finder are available devices for bite test
• Pain on biting -- apical periodontitis
• Pain on release of bite force - cracked tooth
To determine which tooth is sensitive to mastication
and which part of the tooth is sensitive,having the
patients bite on a specialy designed bite stick often
• For the bite test to be meaningful a device should be used that will
allow practitioners to apply pressure to individual cusp or areas of tooth.
• Variety of devices have been used for the bite test including cotton
applicators , tooth picks, orange wood sticks, rubber polishing
• As with all the pulp test, adjacent teeth should be use as controls
so that the patient is aware of the normal response to these test.
• The small cupped out areas on the instruments is placed in contact
with the cusp to be tested.
• The patient is then asked to apply biting pressure with opposing
teeth to the flat surface on the opposing side of the device.
• The biting pressure should be applied slowly until full closure is
• The firm pressure should be applied for few seconds, the patient is
then asked to release the pressure quickly.
• Each individual pressure on a tooth can be tested in a like manner.
• The practitioner should note if the pain is elicited during the
pressure phase or upon quick release of pressure.
• A common finding is with fractured cusp or cracked tooth is
frequent presence pain upon release of biting pressure
Staining and transillumination
• Inorder to determine the presence of crack in the surface of the
tooth,the application of a stain to the area is often of great
• Shining a bright light on the surface of the tooth is also very
• When symtops are non localised or reffered,the diagnosed may be
• Sometimes the patients may not even able to specify whether the
symptoms are emanating from the maxillary or mandibular arch.
• This test is restricted to the patient who are in pain at the
time of the test when the usual tests have failed to identify
• The objective is to anesthetize one tooth at a time until the pain.
disappears and is localized to a specific tooth
• Using either infiltration or intraligament injection, inject the
most posterior tooth in the area suspected of being the cause
• If the pain persist anesthetize the next tooth mesial to it and
continue to do so until the pain disappears
• If the pain cannot be identified as from maxillary or
mandibular origin ,an inferior alveolar block is given
• Cessation of pain naturally indicates involment of mandibular
• This test is obviously a last resort and has an advantage over
the ‘test cavity’ during which iatrogenic damage is possible
• This method is used only when all other test methods are deamed
impossible or the result of the other test are inconclusive 
• This test allows one to determine the pulp vitality
• It is performed when other methods of diagnosis have failed
• The test cavity is made by drilling through the enamel-dentin
junction of an un-anesthetized tooth
• The drilling should be done at slow speed and without a
• Sensitivity or the pain felt by the patient is an indication of
• No endodontic treatment is indicated
• Sedative cement is then placed in the cavity ,search for
source of pain continues
• If no pain is felt -cavity preparation may be continued until
the pulp chamber is reached ,If pulp is completely necrotic-
endodontic treatment can be continued
RECENT PULP VITALITY
• The two technologies which are being developed and which
could potentially prove to be an effective and objective vitality
assessment tools are follows
Laser Doppler flowmetry
• Laser Doppler flowmetry is a method used to assess blood flow in
micro vascular system[3,4]
• Attempts are being made to adapt this technology to assess pulpal
• A diode is used to project a infrared light beam through the crown
and pulp chamber of a toot.
• The Doppler principle states that the light beam will be frequency-
shifted by moving red blood cells but will remain un-shifted as it
passes through static tissue.
• .This technique is accurate ,reliable en reproducible method of
assessing pulpal blood flow.
• Even with this positive findings ,the technology is not advanced
enough for this method to be used on a routine basis in a dental
• If technology can be developed whereby the testing with the LDF
can be accomplished in minutes ,it will likely replace the thermal
and electric pulp testing methods
• Another non-invasive method[4,5]
that has been investigated as a method to
determine pulpal blood flow uses a pulse oximeter ,which is designed to
measure the oxygen concentration of the blood and the pulse rate.
• It works on the principle that two wavelengths of light transmitted by a
photoelectric diode detect oxygenated and deoxygenated haemoglobin as
they pass through a body part to a receptor.
• The diffrences between the light emitted and the light received is
calculated by a microprocessor to provide the pulse rate and oxygen
concentrations in the blood.
• Attempts to use the pulse oximeter to diagnose pulp vitality have met
mixed results .
• The device used for pulp testing are too cumbersome and complicated to
be used on a basis in a dental practice.
Meanism of dental pulp oximeter: (a).light emitting diode emitting red light at
660nm.(b).light – emitting diode emitting infra red light at .940nm.(c)photo
etector.(d)pulse oimeter monitor.(e)pulse oimeter sensor.(f).custom made pulse
oximeter sensor holder.HbO2 ,oxygenated haemoglobin.HbR,deoxygenated
haemoglobin ;SpO2, oxygen saturation of arterial blood.
DISEASES OF PULP
1.Inflammatory diseases of dental pulp
Abnormally response to cold
Abnormally response to heat
• Reversible pulpitis[2,4]
is a mild to moderate inflammatory condition of the
pulp caused by the noxious stimuli in which the pulp caused by capable of
returning to the uninflamed state following removal of the stimuli.
• Symptomatic reversible pulpitis is characterised by sharp pain lasting for a
moment,and generally disappears when the stimulus is removed
• Cold , sweet, or sour usually causes it
• Pain may become chronic.
• The pulp may recover completely or the pain may last longer each time and
intervals of relief may become shorter ,until the pulp finally succumbs
• The pulp is sensitive to temperature changes,particularly cold,application of
cold is an excellent method of locating and diagnosing the involved tooth.
• A tooth with reversible pulpitis reacts normally to percussion,palpation and
• Thermal test are useful in locating the affected tooth if unknown.
• The electric pulp test, using less current than on a control tooth, is an excellent
• Irreversible pulpitis[2,4]
is a persistant inflammatory condition of the pulp,
symptomatic or asymptomatic caused by a noxious stimulus.
• A tooth with symptomatic irreversible pulpitis exhibit intermittent or
spontaneous pain,whereby rapid exposure to dramatic temperature changes
(especially to cold stimuli) will elicit heightened and prolonge episodes of pain
even after the source of the pain is removed.
• The pain may be sharp or dull localised or referred.
• In the early stages the thermal test may elicit pain that persists after removal of
the thermal stimulus.
• In the late stages when the pulp is exposed ,it may respond normally to the
• The electric pulp test induces a response with a marked variation in current
form of normal.
• Result of examination for mobility and perussion and palpation tests are
Chronic Hyperplasic Pulpitis
• Chronic hyperplastic pulpitis[2,4]
or ”pulp polyp” is a productive pulpal
inflammation due to an extensive carious of a young pulp
• Slow , progressive carious exposure of the pulp is the cause.
• Mechanical irritation from chewing and bacterial infection often provide the
• The tooth may respond feebly or not at all to the thermal test,unless one use
extreme cold, as from an methyl chloride spray.
• More current than normal may be required to elicit a response by means of the
electric pulp tester.
• Internal resorption[2,4]
is an idiopathic slow or fast progressive resorptive
process occurring in the dentin of the pulp chamber or root canals of the teeth
• The cause of internal resorption is not known,but such patients often have a
history of trauma
• Internal resorption in the root of a tooth is asymptomatic.
• In the crown of the tooth ,internal resorption may be manifested as a reddish
area called”pink spot”.
• Resorptive defect is more extensive in pulpal wall than on the root surface.
• The defect is usually is recognised by means of a radiograph.
Necrosis of pulp
• Necrosis is death of the pulp
• It may be partial or total ,depending on whether part or the entire pulp is
• It can be caused by any noxious insult to the pulp ,such as bacteria, trauma ,and
• A normal tooth with a necrotic pulp cause no painful symptoms.
• The presence of necrotic pulp may be discovered only by chance because such
tooth is asymptomatic ,and the and the radiograph is non diagnostic.
• The teeth with partial necrosis can respond to thermal changes ,owing to the
presence of vital nerve fibers passing through the adjacent inflamed tissue.
• Tooth with necrotic pulp does not respond to cold ,the electric pulp test ,or the
Possible Diagnoses, based on patient responses to thermal stimuli.
Pulpal Diagnosis Response to cold or heat
Normal Patient reports a thermal sensation and
stops feeling it when the stimulus is
Reversible pulpitis Thermal sensation causes
discomfort/pain and the magnitude of
response is different from adjacent
and/or contralateral teeth;sensation may
Symptomatic irreversible pulpitis After thermal stimulus is applied, patient
reports pain/discomfort is more
pronounced than on adjacent teeth
and/or contralateral tooth;sensation
Asymptomatic irreversible pulpitis Same response as normal or reversible
pulpitis, except the patient has a
history of pulpal inflammation such as
caries, carious exposure, or trauma
Necrosis Patient reports feeling no sensation
when thermal stimulus is applied for
more than 10 seconds
The most common methods to assess pulp vitality are based on sensitivity
assessment of the neural tissues of the pulp. These methods include thermal and
electric pulp tests. Vitaliyt can only be assessed when assessment of vascular
and blood supply to the tooth can be done. The above mentioned technologies
have been proved to be a great help to test the vitality and for further diagnosis
1. Eugene Chen and Paul V. Abbott
Review Article Dental Pulp Testing
Text of Grossman’s Endodonti practice
Page no 84-75
3. Samraj RV
Recent advances in pulp vitality testing
Page no 3
4. Stephen cohen Kenneth M. Hargreaves
Text book of Pathways of the pulp
5. Velayutham Gopikrishna
Article on Evaluation of Efficacy of a New Custom-Made Pulse Oximeter