Inflammation of the pulp is called pulpitis (plural: pulpitides).

On the one hand, infections are possible causes, mainly due to bacteria, e.g. in the course of crown, cervical or root caries or exposure of the pulp as a result of accidents. On the other hand, "sterile" types of pulpitis occur without the involvement of bacteria. These are caused by severe mechanical (contusion, rupture), chemical or thermal irritation (over-heating).

The inflammation can be limited to one section of the pulp (partial p., e.g. in the coronal region), or affect the entire pulp (total p., often with periodontitis apicalis). As well as closed forms with intact pulp cavity (p. clausa), there are also exposed forms (p. aperta, pulp polyp).

Acute or chronic hypersensitivity to temperature, acid, contact, pressure (biting) or vibration (percussion/tapping) stimuli may occur, though it is also possible to have rest pain without any cause and sporadic or continuous complete freedom from pain. The results of the vitality test are generally negative after destruction of the nerve process in the pulp cavity, in some cases (wet gangrene) also false positive.

Reversible forms can be healed (by elimination of the cause); irreversible forms result in necrotic decay of the pulp tissue (gangrene). In these cases root treatment (endodontic treatment) is indicated.