In ordinary terms, a dead or non-vital tooth is a tooth that has no access to blood flow. The teeth have three layers – the enamel, the dentin and the pulp. The pulp is where blood vessels and nerve fibers are located. A dead pulp means a dead tooth. In many cases, a non-vital dead tooth is removed.
Causes of Dead Tooth
There are two known causes of a dead tooth – tooth decay and dental trauma.
- Tooth Decay. Tooth cavity or bacterial infection, if not treated, can get near the nerve or the pulp, causing the nerve to die. This is caused by the inflammatory response from the healthy pulp attempting to get rid of the bacteria in the cavity. But the most it can do is choke the blood vessels by increasing the pressure inside the pulp, causing the blood supply to be cut off, killing the pulp.
- Tooth Trauma. This is caused by sports injuries, kids falling on their front teeth, severe grinding, assault – any form of physical knock on the tooth can result to a dead tooth. When knocked, the blood supply at the tip of the root can be severed. This will cause the pulp to die. To prevent dental injuries, gum shields or sports mouth guard are recommended for contact sports activities.
Identifying Dead Tooth
It’s not easy to identify a dead tooth by just looking at it. A regular visit to the dentist is important as the dentist can spot the signs of a dead or non-vital tooth. Some of the symptoms that may be present include:
- Tooth darkening. A tooth that grows in the yellow, grey or black shades is a sign of a dead tooth. This usually happens in untreated non-vital teeth. The discoloration is due to “bruising” from the dying blood cells. Tooth darkening will not disappear on its own – it needs to be treated.
- Pain. It can vary, from mild or non-existent, to extreme if the nerve is dying or if there is abscess caused by infection. If abscess is present, you will notice a bad taste, swelling, bad smell or a pimple on the gum. Again, the dentist should be able to tell you if such is a symptom of a dead tooth. The dead tooth will eventually loosen up and fall off due to the destruction of the surrounding bone caused by the infection.
Treatment for a Dead Tooth
There are two treatment options available for a dead or non-vital tooth – extraction and root canal.
- Tooth Extraction or Removal. This is done when the tooth is no longer qualified for repair. This is also the practical option for some people with budget restrictions as this is the least expensive procedure. The extracted tooth can be replaced later by a fixed denture.
- Root Canal. This is performed when one does not want to remove the non vital tooth, and especially if other teeth have already been lost before. A root canal will treat the infection and gets rid of the decayed part of the pulp. With the technological advances in modern dentistry, a root canal treatment can be a painless and non-scary procedure, if done early. It can save a dead tooth by preventing further infection. You can see here the best root canal dentist in Mississauga.
If you feel the need to consult a dentist, feel free to do so to confirm your assumptions of a dead or non vital tooth. In the meantime, here are some habits that you might be unconsciously doing which damages the teeth. It is important to know these for it could also lead to a dead tooth.
Since having a nice set of pearly whites boosts our confidence, taking good care of those is the only sure solution. Also keep in mind that our teeth are not only meant to keep good facial shape, the main function of it is for food grinding. You don’t want to wait for the time that all your teeth is gone even there’s an alternative.