Do you think you might have a dead tooth? When a tooth dies, there are some tell-tale indicators, and you must consult your dentist without delay. But what is a dead tooth, how can you be sure you have one and what will the dentist be able to do about it? Let’s find out.
What is a Dead Tooth?
Many people don’t realise that a tooth is a living thing. We only see the hard enamel coating, but beneath this, there are several layers, and these contain living tissue. Right at the centre is the root, and this includes nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue, just like any other part of the body. The main living structure within the tooth is called the pulp, and this extends from the root to the crown. If the pulp’s blood supply is cut off or restricted, the tooth can die. This condition is also known as pulp necrosis.
Symptoms of a Dead Tooth
The most common and obvious symptom of a dead tooth is pain and discomfort. Pain and is often caused by inflammation inside the tooth as the pulp breaks down. This break-down also leads to discolouration. As well as these symptoms in the tooth itself, you might also experience swollen, tender or bleeding gums, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and bad breath.
What Causes a Tooth To Die?
The restricted blood supply causes a dead tooth to the pulp. This, in turn, is most commonly a result of tooth decay. If you have a break or crack in the tooth, there is a higher risk of infection, and this can trigger decay and in the worst case, a dead tooth. This is why it is so essential to get any cracks repaired by your dentist without delay, even if the damage seems minor and is not causing you pain.
Common treatments for a Dead Tooth
As is the case with so many dental conditions, the most appropriate course of treatment depends on your specific circumstances. Sometimes, root canal work can repair the blood vessels and get the supply flowing again. Alternatively, it might be necessary to extract the dead tooth and explore different options for replacing it, such as a bridge or implant. It is important to act quickly, as left untreated, the infection can spread to the surrounding area, causing more pain and damaging the gum and jaw.
Common Questions in Relation to Dead Teeth
There are two tell-tale signs that a tooth is dead or dying. The first is pain and tenderness in the tooth. The second is the discolouration. A dying tooth will turn yellow, grey or black and almost has the appearance of being bruised.
Whitening a dead tooth will not solve the underlying problem, and you will still be at risk of pain and infection, which can spread to surrounding areas. However, if the dentist can save the tooth by performing root canal work, you might then consider whitening it if discolouration has occurred.
Eventually, a dead tooth is likely to work loose and drop out. However, this can take some time, and while it remains in place, it will cause pain. Furthermore, the infection in the root will almost certainly spread, leading to even more serious problems. This is why it is important to seek treatment from your dentist as quickly as possible.
Saving a dead tooth is often a race against time. If caught early, a root canal can restore the flow of blood to the pulp, and the tooth will recover. Your dentist will recommend this treatment if he or she feels it has a realistic chance of success. If not, the dead tooth can be extracted by your dentist so that it stops causing you pain and to prevent the spread of infection. If extraction is necessary, the dentist can fill the gap with either an implant or a dental bridge.
Unfortunately not. If you leave a dead tooth untreated, the inflammation that causes the toothache will get worse. Also, the infection that caused the problem in the first place is likely to spread, causing even more discomfort. The only way to minimise the discomfort is to have the tooth treated by your dentist without delay.