dead tooth

What is a Dead Tooth?

Parker Dentists Answer: What is a Dead Tooth?

A dead tooth, as the name implies, is no longer living or functioning. Although bone technically isn’t alive, a healthy tooth receives a supply of blood from blood vessels within its innermost layer. Teeth are made of three layers. The first layer is the enamel, the hard outer layer. The second layer is called dentin, and finally, the pulp. The pulp is comprised of nerves and blood vessels that supply the tooth with blood and nutrients, and once this blood supply is cut off and the nerve dies, the tooth is considered dead.

Dentists in Parker, CO, also call this necrotic pulp, a non-vital tooth, or a pulpless tooth. A dead tooth, like most dental issues, can lead to more severe complications if it isn’t addressed in time. That’s why it is important to contact the best dentists in Parker, CO at Green Dental Care if you suspect you have a dead tooth. But first, how would you know you have a dead tooth among your set of pearly whites?

Symptoms of a Dead Tooth

You would think that a dead tooth would be immediately noticeable to you, but according to the cosmetic dentist in Parker, CO, that’s not always the case. Dead teeth don’t always darken in color, and you may be unable to identify one just by looking at it. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have a dead tooth:

  • Pain – Usually on a spectrum, the pain can vary from almost non-existent to extremely painful, and it is usually caused by sensitive nerve endings around the outside of the tooth, called the periodontal membrane. When bacteria and pus build up in the pulp cavity inside the tooth, they put pressure on the periodontal membrane, resulting in a lot of pain.
  • Change in color – Dead teeth often get darker in color, and this may appear as a yellow, gray, or black discoloration. The effect is similar to bruising, and the death of red blood cells causes it. The discoloration usually appears if a dead tooth goes untreated for a while and increases over time as the tooth continues to decay, and the nerve dies.
  • Infection – If the dead tooth leads to an infection, it may result in an abscess and produce other symptoms such as a constant bad taste in your mouth, bad breath, and smell.

Note that dead teeth don’t always darken in color, and pain in the jaw or teeth can also be a symptom of plenty of other oral health complications. Ultimately, the best way to catch and treat a dead tooth and other oral health complications in time is to keep up with your dentist appointments. However, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact an emergency dentist in Parker, CO, right away for a consultation.

Causes of a Dead Tooth

Decay is the tooth’s ultimate enemy. Many tooth pain is a direct result of a dead tooth or teeth, Parker, CO dentists explain. Tooth decay or cavities are essentially permanently damaged areas on the surface of a tooth. The decay begins at the outermost layer of a tooth, the enamel, and left untreated. It causes cavities which eat into the deeper layers of the tooth. The cavities will eventually reach the pulp, thus creating a pathway for bacteria to enter the tooth and begin the chain of reaction that leads to nerve death.

At first, the pulp will have an inflammatory response to the bacteria, the immune system’s attempt at destroying the pathogens. However, the bacteria eventually wins, and as the pressure within the pulp builds, it cuts off the blood vessels supplying blood to the pulp, starving the nerve and ultimately leading to nerve death.

Dr. Kristina Neda, a cosmetic dentist in Georgetown, KY, agrees that physical trauma can also lead to tooth death. If enough force is applied, either from a sports fall or an injury, the blood vessels within the pulp can burst, cutting off the blood supply to the nerve. A tooth can die in a matter of days or over a couple of months or years. This is how it usually plays out:

  1. A cavity eats its way into the pulp, leaving it unprotected.
  2. Bacteria enter the pulp.
  3. The pulp tries to fight off the bacteria.
  4. The resulting inflammatory response causes pain, pressure, and swelling.
  5. The blood vessel is cut off, starving the tooth nerve of oxygen and nutrients.
  6. The nerve becomes necrotic and dies, leading to tooth death.

Treatment for a Dead Tooth

Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping up with your dentist appointments will go a long way in preventing tooth decay and cavities, a precursor to tooth death. However, if you are experiencing some of the symptoms described above, try the following tips before you see a dentist:

  • Take over the counter pain medication to relieve any pain.
  • Avoid extremely cold or hot beverages and hard foods.

Regardless of the measures above, you will have to see a dentist in Parker, CO, to have the issue addressed. Many dentists will recommend root canal therapy to save the tooth. As long as your tooth is intact, it will function normally. Alternatively, the dentist may choose to extract it. It all depends on your individual situation. Do you have a dead tooth that needs to be treated? Green Dental Care is happy to handle any dental emergency in Parker CO. Contact us today for a consultation. 

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