A tooth contains three layers: the pulp, enamel, and dentin. To stay healthy and alive, the pulp of the tooth must have a continuous blood supply. When the nerves in the tooth pulp get damaged due to an injury or decay and no longer receive any blood supply, it creates a dead tooth. If left untreated, the dead tooth may affect the jaw and other teeth.
Read on to learn more about the causes, signs, and treatment of a dead tooth.
What Are the Causes of a Dead Tooth?
The possible causes of a dead tooth are:
- Physical injury to the tooth – It may cut off the blood supply to the tooth, causing the tooth to die.
- Poor Dental Hygiene - It can lead to cavities. If left untreated, cavities can cause infection in the tooth pulp, which stops the blood supply to the tooth and causes it to die.
Signs of a Dead Tooth
You can identify a dead tooth by these two primary symptoms:
- Pain – You may experience pain in and around the tooth if your tooth is dead. An infection or dying nerves causes pain, which can be mild or intense.
- Discoloration – A dead or dying tooth won’t receive any blood supply, thus causing the color of the tooth to turn yellow, light brown, gray, or black. The discoloration will increase if the dead tooth is left untreated.
People with a dead tooth may experience these symptoms too:
- Swelling around the gum line
- Bad taste
- Bad breath
How Is a Dead Tooth Diagnosed?
It is recommended to visit your dentist as soon as you have a tooth injury or if you notice any kind of pain and discoloration in your tooth so that they can begin the treatment. A dentist may find a dead tooth during dental checkups and through dental X-rays.
Treatment Options for a Dead Tooth
A dead tooth can be treated by any of the following procedures:
- Root Canal
During this procedure, the infected tooth and its root will be cleaned to remove the abscess or infected tissue. After cleaning, your dentist will seal the root and place the permanent filling to prevent further infection.
A dead tooth can function after treatment, but a crown or veneer may be required to provide extra strength and support.
- Tooth Extraction
Your dentist may recommend removing your tooth if it cannot be restored or is severely damaged. During the procedure, your dentist will completely remove your tooth. However, you can replace the extracted tooth with a denture, implant, or bridge.
Tips for Preventing a Dead Tooth
Follow these tips to prevent a dead tooth:
- Practice good oral hygiene that includes brushing and flossing twice a day
- Wear a mouth guard if you participate in contact sports to prevent injury to your teeth
- Limit the intake of sugary foods and beverages to decrease your risk for cavities and decay
- Drink more water, especially after eating, to wash away food particles
- Schedule regular dental visits for checkups and cleanings
If you are looking for the best treatment for a dead tooth, contact our leading dentists at Plaza Dental Group in Des Moines.