2020 Volume 62 Issue 2 Pages 126-130
Dental pulp is densely innervated by sensory afferents that are primarily involved in nociception. Elucidating the type and properties of these afferents and their distribution patterns within the dental pulp is crucial for understanding the mechanisms of acute dental pain and dental hypersensitivity. Recent studies on the release of the transmitter glutamate and the expression of glutamate receptors and vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUT) in the pulpal axons and trigeminal ganglion (TG) have suggested the possibility of a distinct glutamate signaling mechanism underlying the peripheral processing of dental pain. This review discusses recent findings on the innervation of dental pulp and glutamate signaling by pulpal axons. First, recent findings on the morphological features and types of axons innervating the dental pulp are summarized. Then, glutamate signaling in the dental pulp and changes in the expression of VGLUT1 and VGLUT2 in the pulpal axons and TG neurons following pulpal inflammation are explained. Finally, findings on glutamate release from odontoblasts are briefly described.