A dead tooth is one which no longer has a living nerve inside it. While you may think that having a dead tooth isn’t a problem, it can actually cause your tooth to become infected. This can lead to various other dental problems. If you suspect you have a tooth that died, it’s very important to see a dentist as soon as possible.
Why do nerves die?
In all honesty, it isn’t always possible to tell why a tooth died. There are many reasons why it could happen and in some cases it’s quite easy to tell what the problem was. The causes aren’t always the same. Trauma to the tooth (like a knock when you fall to the ground or walk into a wall) can cause the nerve to die, but nerves can also die because of tooth decay. When a cavity forms in the tooth, bacteria can infect the inside of the tooth and cause the nerves to die. Another common cause is when most of the pressure of your bite is on only one or two teeth. This can lead to a tooth wearing down more than others and can cause the nerve to die in certain cases.
How to spot a dead tooth
Before a tooth dies completely, you might experience a lot of pain, but in many cases patients experience no pain at all, so it isn’t really a good thing to go by. The most common symptom of a dead tooth is discoloration, when blood cells are dying off it causes a tooth to become more yellow or gray. This discoloration won’t go away unless you treat it.
But there are more serious things that could happen as a result of a dead tooth. These include things such as pain caused by an infection or the formation of an abscess.
Oftentimes patients will lose feeling in the dead tooth completely. But don’t assume that the tooth won’t cause problems in the future just because it doesn’t hurt right after the nerve died.
Treatment for a dead tooth
No matter how little feeling is still left in a tooth, it’s unwise to leave the problem untreated. The tooth cavity fills with dead tissue after the nerve dies, which is a breeding ground for infections. If a dead tooth forms an abscess, you might end up with agonizing pain in a tooth that seemed to have no feeling left at all.
Treatment is usually done either by performing a root canal, or by extracting the tooth. Depending on your specific case, a dentist can often suggest which one would be preferable. Extraction is usually done in cases where the tooth has decayed too much to be worth saving. But it’s good to replace an extracted tooth with a dental implant as this replaces missing bone tissue.
If a tooth is still healthy other than the nerve damage, getting rid of it simply doesn’t make sense. Root canals are a great option in these cases.
If you suspect you might have a dead tooth, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t completely sure whether or not the tooth is dead, you should talk to your dentist. The consequences of leaving one untreated could have a serious impact on your oral health.
It’s better to see your dentist as soon as possible to avoid any more damage. Your dentist may even be able to save the tooth if they see it early enough.