The term "hot tooth" is a common name given to an infected tooth which exhibits severe pain. Somtimes hot teeth have living nerve tissue inside of them, but the extent of inflammation prevents the tooth from being able to recover. Such teeth are generally diagnosed with irreversible pulpitis. Many times hot teeth will no longer be vital (i.e. they no longer have living tissue inside of them). Such teeth are termed necrotic, and have hollow root canals open to the inside of the body.
If bacteria gain access to the root canals of necrotic teeth, they can create a significant colony before the body's immune system even knows they are present. Large bacterial colonies are capable of producing a significant amount of tissue destroying enzymes and acids, and when the immune system begins to fight the infection, the bone and soft tissues around the tooth can be extremely tender even to light finger pressure.
Hot teeth and the area around them can be difficult to anesthetize, due to the acidic environment and the amount of infectious fluid present. Many times treating the tooth comfortably requires localizing the infection with antibiotic medication prior to performing endodontic (root canal) procedures on the tooth.
Page last updated: 10/10/2007