Introduction

The most common complaint causing a person to seek the services of an oral healthcare provider is pain. Pain is a sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage and underlies most quality of life issues.1,2,3 It is estimated that in the United States approximately 12% of the population suffers from odontalgia.1 Pain is the consequence of a complex series of neuronal,4-6 inflammatory,7 immunological,8,9 vascular,10,11 and morphological responses11,12 to tissue injury.

Since tissue injury is the quintessential stimulus for odontogenic pain, the primary obligation and ultimate responsibility of every oral healthcare provider is to exercise a degree of skill, care, and judgment that will promote optimal healing of diseased tissues and relieve pain. This requires an understanding of the complexity of pain and the factors that determine its expression, the initiation of disease-modifying procedures, and the implementation of sound pharmacological strategies.