Is Your Tooth Dead? A Dentist Shares the Signs
July 25, 2019
Nobody likes having a toothache, but if you have one that randomly stops hurting, that could be a sign of a much bigger problem. In the moment it might seem like the tooth is getting better since it’s no longer hurting. But it could actually mean that the nerve within the tooth has died. This is why it’s important to see your dentist whenever you have tooth pain. If you wait too long, your tooth might die! Let’s take a look at what a dead tooth is, how it can happen, and how it can be treated.
How Can a Tooth Die?
In the center of every tooth is some soft tissue called the dental pulp. This is where the nerves of the tooth are located. When the pulp becomes injured and can’t repair itself, it can die. A dead tooth means that there is no longer any blood flow to the area, and the nerves are no longer working.
There are two main reasons why a tooth may die: decay and trauma. When a cavity reaches the pulp and is not treated, bacteria can destroy the nerve to the point where no blood flows there anymore. Trauma involves injury to the tooth from an activity like contact sports or biting down on something very hard.
What Are the Signs of a Dead Tooth?
The main signs that a tooth is dead are:
- Pain. Even though the nerve is dead, pain can still emanate from very sensitive nerve endings around the outside of the tooth, called the periodontal membrane.
- Discoloration. A dead tooth will get darker in color, turning yellow, gray, or black. This is because the red blood cells are dying and is a similar effect as bruising.
- Bad taste in your mouth
How Can a Dead Tooth Be Treated?
A dead tooth can be treated with either a root canal or extraction. Which method your dentist uses depends on the state of your tooth. If it is in fairly good condition with the exception of a dead pulp, a root canal may be able to save it. If it can’t be saved, extraction is the only option.
If you don’t remove a dead tooth, it won’t heal on its own. In fact, it can get worse. If it was an infection that killed the pulp, it can spread to other teeth and potentially kill them too. Pus can form in the area. This is why it’s important to deal with a dead tooth as soon as possible.
How Can I Prevent My Teeth from Dying?
A good oral hygiene routine is essential in keeping your teeth alive. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once daily. If you play sports, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth from injury that could kill the pulp.
If you think one or more of your teeth have died, see your dentist right away for treatment. It’s important to get them taken care of as soon as you possibly can.
About the Practice
At North Jacksonville Complete Dentistry, we try to save your teeth as much as we can. Drs. Ryan Johnson and William Baxter have decades of experience in dentistry between them, including performing root canals to preserve teeth and tooth extractions to remove dead teeth. If you think you have a dead tooth, contact them at (904)-751-4958.
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