Dead Tooth: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

A tooth is considered to be “non-vital” or dead if it no longer receives blood flow. A tooth can die in a matter of days, or gradually, from months to years by an injury or decay. The event of a dead tooth mainly depends on your dental hygiene. 

What Causes a Dead Tooth?

A tooth dies primarily due to tooth decay or tooth trauma. When cavities are left untreated, the infection reaches the tooth pulp and allows bacteria to get inside of the tooth. This causes the tooth nerves to die, resulting in a dead tooth. Similarly, if some physical trauma happens to the tooth and the blood flow is interrupted, this will eventually lead to a dead tooth.

What Are the Symptoms of a Dead Tooth?

Regular visits to the dentist are important to help diagnose a dead tooth as symptoms are not always easily visible. The two most obvious symptoms of a dead tooth are pain and a change in its color. The pain associated with a dead tooth can range from almost unnoticeable to excruciating. In a case where the tooth is infected and is dying, you may also notice swelling around your gum line and a bad smell or taste in your mouth.

How to Treat a Dead Tooth?

The two main treatment options for a dead tooth are a root canal procedure or getting it pulled. Root canal treatment aims to clear all infection from the tooth and its root. Once the infection is cleared, your dentist will seal the tooth permanently to prevent any further infections. 

If your dead tooth is beyond repair, your dentist will recommend to get it pulled. Tooth extraction is a simple procedure that is comparatively cheap and painless. After the extraction, your dentist may replace the tooth with a denture or an implant.

What Should You Do to Prevent a Dead Tooth?

Here are actions you can take to lessen your risk of having a dead tooth:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day, at least.
  • Use a mouth guard when participating in contact sports to prevent tooth trauma.
  • Avoid sugary foods and maintain a healthy diet to prevent tooth decay.
  • Visit your dentist every six months so that dental problems such as a dead tooth can be detected early.

Does a root canal kill a tooth?

A root canal procedure does not kill the tooth. The tooth regains its normal functionality after the root canal process. The nerves or the tooth pulp are cleaned of any infection during a root canal and therefore, it is harmless. However, a root canal is a lengthy procedure and you will need to visit your dentist multiple times before the treatment is completed.

Should I get my dead tooth pulled?

Dentists avoid removing teeth if at all possible, so they might perform a root canal first. If your dead tooth is beyond repair, you may have to get it pulled. This is why early treatment is vital if you develop a dead tooth. Extracting a tooth is a simple procedure and is only done if your tooth is unable to be restored.

Can I leave a dead tooth in my mouth?

You should never leave a dead tooth in your mouth. If left untreated, the bacteria from the dead tooth can spread to neighboring teeth and lead to the loss of additional teeth. It could also affect your gums and jawbone.

A dental professional can diagnose a dead tooth accurately, so make sure to consult with the dentist near you  if you have any symptoms of a dead tooth. If you are in Seatle area, you can schedule an appointment with our Shoreline dentist or Milton dentist.

Related Article: How Soon Can You Return to Work After a Root Canal Treatment?


Reign Dental

Reign Dental is one of the most sought after dental care providers in Seattle area to offer complete dental care. We are among a few dental clinics that provide a wide range of dentistry services including oral & maxillofacial surgery, TMJ treatment, Botox, orthodontics, periodontics and all other advanced dental solutions. Highly professional dentists working with us specialize in dental implants, bone grafting, smile makeover and oral surgery. We are well-known for our safe and patient-specific care approach. We offer affordable and quality dental care services. We make sure that our customers walk out of our clinic with a big beautiful smile.

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