Most people are familiar with the experience of wearing clothes that are too small for them. Maybe you've outgrown a piece of clothing, or maybe you purchased the wrong size. Your skin is constrained by the tightness of the fabric, but any discomfort is minor because the fabric stretches to some extent. Imagine living tissue being constrained by something solid and immovable. This is what happens when a tooth develops pulpitis.
An Inflammation of the Tooth's Nerve
Pulpitis is an inflammation of the tooth's nerve, and this condition can be extremely painful. As the pulp becomes inflamed, it expands, but this expansion is limited by the confines of the tooth's pulp chamber, creating pressure and discomfort. Toothache is typically the first warning sign of pulpitis, and this must be assessed by your dentist. Reversible pulpitis can be treated, but if it's given the opportunity to progress, it will become irreversible. Unfortunately, irreversible pulpitis means a root canal is unavoidable.
Bacterial Infection and Toothache
So how is reversible pulpitis actually reversed? This is a matter of correcting the issue that led to your dental pulp becoming inflamed. In most cases, this involves a simple cavity or other breach in the tooth's surface. This makes the pulp more vulnerable to bacterial infection, which has led to its inflammation, which has led to your toothache.
Elimination of the Irritant
The decayed portion of your tooth will be removed, and the deficient site will be fitted with a dental restoration (such as a filling). The elimination of this irritant (and the removal of the irritant's access point) will permit your dental pulp to heal itself. Its inflammation will subside, taking your toothache with it.
Antibiotics and Pain Relief
Even though pulpitis is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are not generally used in its treatment. Their effects are negligible and will only be prescribed if it is suspected that the infection has spread or if there is a secondary condition that warrants antibiotics as a precautionary measure. Over-the-counter pain relief should be the only medication you'll need, and this need will disappear once the cause of your pulpitis has been addressed.
With toothache, it can actually be helpful to assume the worst because this compels you to see your dentist as soon as possible. This can be extremely beneficial when your toothache turns out to be caused by pulpitis. Remember that reversible pulpitis can easily become irreversible pulpitis.