by Dr. Pooneh Ramezani, DDS
Did you know your teeth are actually living? This also means they can die. Below the tooth’s enamel and dentin is the pulp, where blood vessels and nerve fibers are located. When the tooth no long has access to blood flow it becomes non-vital, or dead.
Causes of a Dead Tooth
Tooth Decay. If a tooth cavity or infection goes untreated, it can cause the nerve or the pulp to die. This is an inflammatory response from the healthy pulp working to get rid of the bacteria in the cavity. This is why it's important to practice good dental hygiene and visit your dentist twice a year.
Tooth Trauma. When a tooth is knocked out of a place during physical activities or sports, the blood supply at the tip of the of root can be severed. This will cause the pulp to die. To prevent dental injuries, mouth guards are highly recommended.
Identifying a Dead Tooth
Tooth darkening. The discoloration of the tooth is caused by the blood vessels in the nerve breaking down and releasing red blood cells, like a bruise. The tooth will continue to darken, and it's permanent. Yikes.
Pain. You may experience pain, from mild to extreme if the nerve is dying or if there is an abscess caused by infection. You may notice a bad taste in your mouth, swollen gums surrounding the tooth or a foul odor. Consult with your dentist about these symptoms.
Treatment for a Dead Tooth
You must treat a dead tooth, because the empty space in the pulp chamber is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and a painful abscess can occur. Here are two treatment options:
Tooth Extraction. When the tooth is beyond repair, it will be removed to avoid causing future problems. The extracted tooth can later be replaced by a fixed denture.
Root Canal. This will help treat the infection and get rid of the decayed pulp. A root canal can be painless if done early. After this procedure, you can try tooth whitening treatments.
Since having a white, healthy smile boosts your self-confidence, taking good care of your teeth is the only sure way to prevent a dead tooth. Look for an all-natural, organic toothpaste or peroxide-free teeth whitening pen to help keep your pearly whites in place!
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