Dentistry is entering an exciting era in which many of the advances in biotechnology offer opportunities for exploitation in novel and more effective therapies. Pulp healing is complex and dependent on the extent of injury, among many other factors. Many of the molecular and cellular processes involved in these healing events recapitulate developmental processes. The regulation of odontoblast activity is clearly central to pulp healing, and an understanding of the mechanisms involved in these processes is necessary to enable laboratory studies to be translated to clinic application. Transcriptome analysis has identified changes in many odontoblast genes during the life-cycle of this cell and its responses to injurious challenge. The p38 MAPKinase pathway appears to be central to the transcriptional control of odontoblasts and may provide a key target for therapeutic intervention. The many recent advances in knowledge of pulpal stem cells and molecular signaling molecules within the tooth, now provide exciting opportunities for clinical translation to novel therapies. Such translation will require the partnership of researchers and skilled clinicians who can effectively apply advances in knowledge to appropriate clinical cases and develop novel therapies which can be realistically introduced into the clinic.