Neural control of pulpal blood flow

Crit Rev Oral Biol Med. 1996;7(2):159-71. doi: 10.1177/10454411960070020401.


Blood flow of mammalian dental pulp is under both remote and local control. There is evidence for the existence of parasympathetic nerves in the pulp, but functionally the cholinergic influence is weak, and the physiological significance of this autonomic system seems to be low. The evidence for sympathetic vasoconstrictor nerves in the pulp is robust, and there is convincing support for the contention that these nerves play a physiological role, operating via release of noradrenaline and neuropeptide Y. However, there is no significant functional evidence in support of sympathetic beta-adrenoceptor-mediated vasodilation in the pulp. The local control of blood flow involves a subset of intradental sensory nerves. By virtue of their neuropeptide content, these afferent fibers cause vasodilation and inhibit sympathetic vasoconstriction in response to painful stimulation of the tooth. Such locally governed control may serve to meet immediate demands of the pulp tissue. A locally triggered reflex activation of sympathetic nerves in the pulp may modulate this control and limit its magnitude. Thus, there are competitive interactions between local and remote vascular controls which may be put out of balance in the injured and inflamed dental pulp.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology
  • Cholinergic Fibers / physiology
  • Dental Pulp / blood supply*
  • Dental Pulp / innervation*
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Neuropeptide Y / physiology
  • Norepinephrine / physiology
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiology
  • Pulpitis / physiopathology
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology
  • Toothache / physiopathology
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / pharmacology
  • Vasodilation


  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Norepinephrine