What Is a Dead Tooth?

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You don’t have to know much about dentistry to know that a dead tooth is not something you want to deal with. We admit, the name is a bit frightening! But knowledge is power and we think it’s better to be informed about what the condition actually is, meaning what causes it, how to know when you have it, and how to treat it, so that you can be prepared and hopefully avoid a good amount of stress.

Causes of a Dead Tooth

A dead tooth, sometimes called a non-vital tooth or pulpless tooth, is a tooth that doesn’t have blood flow to it anymore and has either dying or dead nerves. These blood vessels and nerves exist in the inner part of a tooth known as the pulp.

A dead tooth is generally caused because of tooth decay or tooth trauma. Don’t start panicking thinking that every cavity you get is going to lead to a dead tooth. The problem is when a cavity is left untreated and it makes its way from the outer layer of a tooth down to the inside where the pulp is. When bad bacteria gets in there, your tooth’s pulp will attempt to fight off the infection but can’t do so forever. Eventually, the tooth’s blood supply will get cut off, and the nerves and pulp will die.

With physical tooth trauma, something like a bad fall or a hard hit to the face during contact sports can cause the blood vessel in a tooth to burst, which in turn can also end up cutting off the supply of blood to the tooth.

Symptoms of a Dead Tooth

Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell whether or not you have a dead tooth simply from looks alone. But you can monitor whether or not there is pain as well as a change in color of the tooth. The pain could be barely noticeable to extremely severe. In terms of the color, a dead tooth often becomes darker and can have yellow, gray, or black discoloration. If you keep up with your regular, twice-a-year dental visits, your dentist will be able to spot whether or not you have a dead tooth and come up with a treatment plan.

Treatment for a Dead Tooth

Depending on the condition of your tooth, your dentist may recommend root canal therapy or a tooth extraction. The latter can happen if there is no other way to save the tooth. That’s why the earlier you seek treatment the better!

If you’d like more professional advice about your dental care, please feel free to reach out to our team at Edgewater Dental Arts. We’re here to help!

Dr. John Cutting

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John Cutting, DMD is an Annapolis dentist experienced in all aspects of dentistry. He provides complete care from general dentistry to cosmetic and restorative dentistry in his conveniently located and comfortable office, Edgewater Dental Arts.