Do I have a Dead Tooth?
A tooth is made up of components that consist of soft and hard tissues. Most people assume that their teeth are not living but they actually are. They have nerves connected to them which can be damaged in the case of an injury or decay. This can lead to a stop of blood flow to your teeth leading to the nerve eventually dying. Dr. Fardi Farhat from Dental One Care in Sterling Heights, MI, provides us with some insights on the dead tooth.
Signs of a dead tooth
As the name suggests, a dead tooth is any tooth that no longer receives a supply of blood from the nerve connected to it. One of the first telling sign of a dead tooth is discoloration along with some pain in either the tooth itself or the gum.
Healthy teeth, in general, are white. But the color may vary depending on how good your oral hygiene is or due to your diet. In either case, all your teeth would have a uniform color, whether it is white, off-white, or slightly yellow.
A tooth that is dying will differ in color than the rest of your teeth. It can be one of many colors, light yellow, grey, brown, or black. It usually starts off looking like a bruised tooth. If not treated, the color will continue to change until the nerve is dead.
While pain isn’t always present, some individuals may experience it. The magnitude of pain differs from one individual to another. Some may feel light pain while others may feel extreme pain. The dying nerve is usually the reason for the pain. But pain and discoloration aren’t the only signs, individuals may also experience:
- A constant bad taste in the mouth
- Swelling in the gum line
- Bad breath
It is vital that you go see a dentist if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.
Causes of a dead tooth
One of the most common causes of a dead tooth is injury or trauma to the tooth. For example, if you trip and fall directly on your face, the fall may have an impact on your tooth. The time frame of a dead tooth to completely die differs depending on the magnitude of the injury. There are cases where the tooth takes a few days to die while others where it takes weeks.
Cavities are another cause of a dead tooth. Bad oral hygiene leads to cavities and if they go untreated then they end up destroying your tooth. The cavities eat away the enamel working their way to the pulp of the tooth. Once they reach the pulp, it becomes infected and restricts the blood flow to the tooth. Dead tooth due to cavities can be very painful.
How to diagnose a dead tooth?
Experts at Dental One Care are always examining patients for discoloration. A dead tooth is usually diagnosed during a regular checkup when there is either discoloration or the patient complains about pain in their tooth or gum. with the help of an X-ray, a dentist can confirm if the patient has a dead tooth or not.
How to treat a dead tooth?
Getting treated for a dead tooth is important. If you don’t seek treatment right away, chances are your tooth could be lost forever and the infection can reach your gums and jawbone. Your treatment options are:
1. Root Canal
The root canal is a treatment that allows the patient to keep their tooth. An opening in the tooth is made for the dentist to access the pulp of the tooth to remove it and clean the infection out. Once the infection is completely eliminated, the roots are sealed and a filling is applied for the small opening.
A crown is usually then placed to ensure the tooth remains healthy. It is used to cover your teeth to protect it from further infections.
In extreme cases of the dead tooth, in which the tooth is severely damaged, the dentist may need to extract your tooth completely. They can then use denture, bridge, or dental implants to replace the extracted tooth. Depending on which replacement option you go with, the dentist will provide you with details on how to take care of it and if and when it may need to be replaced.
How to manage the pain linked to a dead tooth?
If you experience a lot of pain due to a dead tooth, you can take some precautions on your own to prevent it.
- Avoid or limit your intake of hot beverages. Hot liquid will lead to inflammation which triggers the pain in the tooth.
- To control the pain, you can take painkillers like ibuprofen.
- Avoid eating food that is hard. The act of biting into hard food can aggravate the nerve leading to more pain.
The best way to avoid any further pain is to see a dentist immediately after you experience pain in your tooth. You want to make sure you get it looked at immediately and catch a dead tooth in its early stages.
How to prevent a dead tooth?
We asked our friend, Dr. Cody Cowen, a dentist in Baton Rouge, LA, about preventing a dead tooth. Dr. Cowen says while accidents aren’t always preventable, you can still take measures to reduce the risk of a dead tooth. He gave the following suggestions to prevent a dead tooth:
- Good oral hygiene –This is a must, you need to make sure you have a good oral regimen which includes brushing twice a day and flossing at least once.
- Regular dental checkups –Make sure to go for regular checkups every six months. Your dentist can easily spot any oral issues and provide you with the best plan to combat it.
- Use a mouth guard – If you play any contact sport or take part in an activity that may lead to tooth injury, it is important that you protect them with a mouth guard.
- Consume healthy food – Avoid eating foods that contain a lot of sugar which can lead to cavity and tooth decay.
- Drink water – Consume at least 8 glasses of water a day.
Conclusion to Do I have a dead tooth?
A dead tooth is a serious oral problem that should be treated at the first sight. Therefore, it is important you contact your dentist if you notice any discoloration in a tooth or experience pain in it. This way the infection can be treated so it doesn’t spread and become more harmful.