The existence and nature of parasympathetic nerve fibers in the dental pulp have long been a subject for discussion; indeed, vasodilator responses mediated by such nerve fibers have yet to be conclusively demonstrated in the dental pulp. This study was designed to determine whether parasympathetic vasodilator mechanisms do or do not exist in the cat dental pulp. Dynamic changes in pulpal blood flow (PBF), with mandibular lip blood flow (LBF) recorded as a control, were investigated in cat mandibular canine teeth by means of laser Doppler velocimetry. Peripheral trigeminal afferents (see below) were stimulated electrically to confirm that somato-parasympathetic reflex vasodilatation could be induced. The peripheral cut ends of the facial and glossopharyngeal nerve roots, which have been reported to contain parasympathetic nerve fibers to the oral tissues, were then stimulated intracranially. Electrical stimulation of trigeminal afferents (in the infra-orbital nerve or the maxillary buccal gingiva) caused no change in PBF but did increase ipsilateral LBF. Neither facial nor glossopharyngeal nerve root stimulation caused a PBF increase, though both elicited increases in ipsilateral LBF. The vasodilator responses in the lip were sensitive to ganglion blockade (with hexamethonium), indicating vasodilatation via activation of parasympathetic vasodilator fibers. In contrast, intracranial stimulation of the trigeminal nerve root induced increases in both PBF and LBF which were reduced by pre-treatment with tripelennamine, indicating antidromic vasodilatation via the trigeminal sensory nerve. These results suggest that a parasympathetic vasodilator mechanism is not present in feline dental pulp.
- laser Doppler velocimetry
- parasympathetic nerve
- parasympathetic vasodilatation
- pulpal blood flow