A tooth is “dead” when blood no longer flows through it. It is also known as a “non-vital tooth or Dead Tooth.”
As we know, a tooth has three layers: enamel, dentin, and pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves. The dead or dying nerves in the pulp can cause the death of a tooth.
Once this happens, the tooth will eventually fall off by itself. However, it can be dangerous to wait for this to happen, as the tooth can become infected and affect the jaw and other teeth.
Symptoms of Dead Tooth
It is not always easy to identify a non-vital tooth by merely looking at it. Only a dental professional can diagnose it, so regular visits to the dentist are essential. However, two main symptoms of a dead tooth can help with self-diagnosis: pain and tooth color change.
A tooth that is dead or dying can lead to a variable level of pain, from being almost nonexistent to extremely painful. The dying nerve or infection usually causes an increase in pain. Some people wonder why they experience pain if the nerve is dead. However, the pain does not come from inside the tooth but from extremely sensitive nerve endings around the outside of the tooth, called the periodontal membrane. Bacteria and the remains of dead nerves, or pus, accumulate in the cavity inside the tooth and exert pressure on the periodontal membrane, which can cause immense pain.
If the tooth is dead, it will often have a darker color, and it is possible to notice a yellow, gray or black discoloration. Usually, a change in color occurs because the red blood cells are dying. It is an effect very similar to bruises. Discoloration will happen if a dead tooth is not treated and its color change will increase over time.
There are two leading causes of a non-vital tooth: tooth decay and dental trauma.
Dental decay begins in the outermost layer of the tooth, but over time it can cause tooth decay that penetrates deeper layers. If these cavities are not treated, they can reach the pulp and create a way for bacteria to enter the tooth and cause nerve death. The pressure inside the pulp will increase, cutting off the blood supply, depriving the nerve and killing the pulp. This can cause severe pain.
If there is physical trauma to the tooth, such as a sports injury or fall, the blood vessels may burst, or the blood supply to the tooth may be cut off. Eventually, because blood does not flow to the tooth, the nerve and other living tissues within the pulp will die.
Early treatment to fix a non-vital tooth is vital. Even if a person does not feel pain at first and they suspect they have a dead tooth, they should seek medical attention. An x-ray will help the dentist diagnose a dead tooth. For your treatment, the usual is extraction.
The Oral Health Foundation recommends that you follow a routine for dental care: brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste before bedtime and at least once more during the day, flossing between your teeth with dental floss or an interdental brush at least once a day. Day, avoid sugary foods and drinks and go to the dentist regularly for healthy teeth.