The incidence of mechanical allodynia in patients with irreversible pulpitis

J Endod. 2007 May;33(5):552-6. doi: 10.1016/j.joen.2007.01.023. Epub 2007 Mar 6.


The mechanisms of odontogenic pain are complex and incompletely understood. Cases of irreversible pulpitis are thought to represent a localized inflammatory response to bacterial challenge in dental pulp tissue. The presenting symptoms are classically defined by exaggerated painful episodes to thermal stimuli that may linger after cessation of the stimulus. However, the associated incidence of mechanical allodynia, defined as reduced mechanical pain threshold to masticatory forces, has not been characterized. This study evaluated pain intensity ratings and the presence of mechanical allodynia reported by 993 consecutive dental patients presenting for tooth extraction in a community health center. After clinical and radiographic examinations, the pulpal/periradicular diagnostic categories were normal pulp/normal periradicular (n=792 patients), irreversible pulpitis/normal periradicular (n=86), or irreversible pulpitis/acute periradicular periodontitis (n=115). The rank order for the mean values of pain intensity ratings was irreversible pulpitis/acute periradicular periodontitis > irreversible pulpitis/normal periradicular > normal/normal (p<0.05 for all comparisons). The incidence of mechanical allodynia in patients presenting with irreversible pulpitis was 57.2%, indicating that periradicular mechanical allodynia contributes to early stages of odontogenic pain because of inflammation of vital pulpal tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperesthesia / epidemiology
  • Hyperesthesia / etiology*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Periapical Periodontitis / complications*
  • Pulpitis / complications*
  • Toothache / etiology*