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THE FUNCTION OF INTRADENTAL NERVES IN RELATION TO THE SENSATIONS INDUCED BY DENTAL STIMULATION

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Stimulation of intradental nerves has been widely used in pain research as a method for selective activation of pain pathways. It is believed that the only sensation experienced by human subjects in response to activation of pulp nerves is that of pain. However, this concept is not strictly correct. With electrical stimulation at threshold level or near to it a sensation which is not necessarily painful (“prepain") is experienced. When the stimulus intensity is increased suprathreshold, the sensation tends to change to a painful and unpleasant one.

The changes in sensations are probably caused by activation of intradental nerve units with different thresholds and conduction velocities. In cats the fastest conducting pulp nerve fibres have the lowest thresholds and slowly conducting units are activated at much higher current levels.

In most experiments on human teeth using natural stimuli like hot and cold the only sensation experienced has been pain. It seems also difficult for the subjects to find any difference between different stimuli. Correspondingly, in animal experiments it has been shown that different stimuli applied to dentine are capable of activating the same intradental nerve units probably with a common mechanism (hydrodynamic). However, some recent studies indicate that sensation of cold could be induced by stimulating human teeth.
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Keywords: Dental pulp; dental pain; innervation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1984

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