Why do teeth die on us?
Teeth contain a blood supply and healthy teeth are very much alive. The pulp of the tooth extends from the crown to the roots. When the nerves in the pulp of the tooth become damaged either through injury or decay, they stop providing blood to the tooth. The nerve basically dies and your dentist would describe it as a “non-vital” tooth.
Signs of a Dead Tooth
Discoloration might be one of the first signs. A tooth that is dying will be different in colour to the rest of the teeth. It might be a dark yellow or light brown in colour. This will get worse over time as the nerve continuous to die off.Pain when biting or chewing could also be another symptom but not always. Some people don’t experience any pain and may be unaware that the tooth has died. Other signs may include swelling around the gum line, bad breath or bad taste. Oversensitivity in the affected tooth when you drink hot or cold beverages is also another sign in the early stages.
What Causes a Tooth to Die?
Trauma or injury is one possible cause. For example falling over and hitting your mouth or getting hit in the mouth. A tooth can die instantly or slowly over several months or years. Any injury to your teeth should always be investigated by your dentist.
Tooth decay when left untreated can also destroy the nerves in the teeth and the surrounding bone. Decay will eat away at the enamel and eventually reach the pulp. The infection cuts off the blood supply to the pulp. The symptoms are usually intense pain.
Dead teeth should be treated as soon as possible to give them the best chance of survival otherwise the bacteria from the dead tooth can spread which can affect the bone and surrounding area. The treatment for dead teeth is either extraction or root canal therapy. This involves cleaning out the infection in the pulp (roots of the teeth) with small instruments and filing and sealing the roots to prevent further infection. In many cases a crown is recommended to protect the tooth as root filled teeth can become brittle over time. If crowning is not necessary tooth bleaching may be used to treat tooth discoloration to the affected teeth. Porcelain veneers are also another option to disguise the discoloration.
It is not always possible to cure badly infected teeth. Referral can be made to specialist Endodontists who use microscopes and can deal with difficult roots. Failing that, extraction would be necessary. The tooth lost can be replaced with an implant, denture or bridge. Your dentist would be able to give you the best options.
If you would like further advice from our Endodontist please call 01600 712020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org