Dead Tooth Causes and Treatments


What is a Dead Tooth?

There are 3 layers to a tooth consisting of dentin, enamel, and pulp. To stay alive, teeth must have a continuous blood supply to the pulp, the innermost part of the tooth comprising nerves and blood vessels. When the blood supply is ceased to the pulp, the tooth will start to die due to a lack of much-needed nutrients and oxygen.

What Causes a Dead Tooth?

Tooth Decay: Through lack of good oral hygiene habits, tooth decay may occur and, over time, give bacteria access to the soft pulp tissue, leading to infection and eventually, the death of the tooth. Healthy tooth pulp will fight off the bacteria as long as possible, but the longer the inflammation continues, the more likely it is that the tooth will die.

Tooth Trauma: Physical injury to the tooth can occur suddenly due to many reasons, such as a bike accident or possibly a fall or face injury. If not addressed quickly, the tooth’s blood flow may cease, causing the tooth to die.

Symptoms of a Dead Tooth

If you feel you have a dead tooth, there are two main symptoms to look for:

Discomfort: Pain in and around the tooth is usually the first sign that you have a dead tooth. The pain can be mild to excruciating.

Discoloration: A dying or dead tooth changes colors due to the lack of blood supply and is similar to bruising.

How to Fix a Dead Tooth?

It is crucial to seek quick treatment for a dying or dead tooth, as steps can be taken to possibly fix the tooth or at least keep it from becoming infected. Your dentist or oral surgeon will order X-rays to examine the extent of the damage inside the tooth to develop a repair plan.

Dead tooth treatment consists of two options:

Tooth Extraction: Early treatment could help deter the tooth’s removal, but if it is not in the condition to be saved, it will have to be pulled to prevent the spread of infection. Tooth extractions are a standard procedure and can be done quickly and with little pain. Once the tooth is extracted, there are a few options to replace the tooth, such as a dental bridge or implant, which can improve your oral health.

Root Canal: This treatment involves a deep cleaning of the inside of a tooth to remove infected tissue, cleaning of the tooth canals, and removal of the pulp. Even if the tooth is dead, it can still be handy as long as it is not broken. Dead teeth tend to be brittle and easily chip and break, so a dental crown may be placed to add strength and support to the tooth.

How to Prevent a Tooth from Dying?

Good oral hygiene habits are critical to prevent a dead tooth. Regular flossing and brushing will keep particles from settling in the gum line and causing decay.