Dental pulp test

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Dental pulp test
Electric pulp testing tooth.jpg
Electric pulp vitality testing (EPT) by applying an electric pulp-tester on the tooth
MeSH D003791

Dental pulp vitality test (DPT) or Dental pulp sensibility testing is a technique in dentistry used to diagnose pulpal health of the dental nerve and vasculature inside the pulp chamber and root canals of a tooth. These are useful and essential diagnostic aids in endodontics. Dental pulp sensibility testing can either be done by thermal or electrical means in order to assess health of the dental pulp, according to the sensory response.[1] Dental pulp sensibility testing should not be confused with pulp-vitality tests, such as laser Doppler flowmetry and/or pulse oximetry. Both flow-metrometry and pulp oximetry can only be used to assess whether blood flow is present or absent within the dental pulp.[2]


Electric pulp test[edit]

Electric pulp testing (EPT) is done by placing a tester on the to-be-tested tooth along with a drop of conducting paste. Usually the patient's saliva or toothpaste suffices as a conductor of electricity. The electric current is gradually increased until the patient signals a sensation, which consists of clicking or buzzing in the tooth. The test is repeated on neighboring teeth and often on the corresponding contralateral tooth. The lowest perceptible current is recorded for each tooth.

Thermal test[edit]

Thermal testing includes applying hot or cold agents (e.g. ethyl chloride) to the tooth.

Clinical significance[edit]

No response from a tooth generally indicates pulpal necrosis or dental abscess, which suggests root canal therapy or dental extraction. A very quick response compared to the adjacent teeth generally indicates pulpitis and presages pulp death. Similar response to neighboring teeth suggests a healthy tooth.



  1. ^ Chen, Eugene; Abbott, Paul V. (2009). "Dental Pulp Testing: A Review". International Journal of Dentistry. 2009. doi:10.1155/2009/365785. ISSN 1687-8728. PMC 2837315Freely accessible. PMID 20339575. 
  2. ^ Alghaithy, R. A.; Qualtrough, A. J. E. (2017-02-01). "Pulp sensibility and vitality tests for diagnosing pulpal health in permanent teeth: a critical review". International Endodontic Journal. 50 (2): 135–142. doi:10.1111/iej.12611. ISSN 1365-2591.