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Recognizing a Dead Tooth


Posted on 12/7/2020 by Jeannie Molato, DDS
Recognizing a Dead ToothDo you know what causes a tooth to die? Do you know how to recognize one? The following information gives you further details so you can treat the problem.

What Is a Dead Tooth?


Also called a necrotic tooth, a dead tooth is a tooth whose blood supply has been cut off. By comparison, a healthy tooth is composed of enamel, dentin, and the pulp, which contains nerves and the blood vessels. When a tooth's blood supply is cut off, the pulp inside the tooth dies. While the tooth does not contain a working nerve, it does not mean that it will not hurt. That is because the periodontal membrane places pressure on the tooth, which triggers pain and discomfort. While some patients think a dead tooth is dark in color, this is not always the case. In most instances, though, you should suspect a dead tooth if you have a bad taste in your mouth or experience swelling of the periodontal membrane around the affected tooth. You may also have a dead tooth if you discover a pimple on the inside of your gum next to the tooth - an indicator that you may have an abscess.

What Causes a Tooth to Die?


If tooth decay penetrates the deeper layers of the tooth, an infection may result, which will affect the interior nerve, which will cause the tooth to die. While pulp, which is healthy, normally tries to fight off dental decay and bacteria, it can only last for so long. Ultimately, the blood flow will stop and the nerve, starved of nutrients and oxygen, will die. A tooth may also die if you have an injury while playing sports or get injured in an accident. Even in cases where the flow of blood is only partly reduced, the tooth can still die if it does not receive sufficient nutrients and oxygen. Typically, the process begins when a crack or cavity penetrates a tooth and bacteria enter and attack the pulp. The pulp, in return, tries to fight off the invading bacteria, but eventually loses the battle. When this happens, pain, swelling, and pressure occur and the nerve of the tooth, starved of oxygen and nutrients, dies. In turn, the blood flow lessens or stops altogether.

If you suspect you have a dead tooth, contact us immediately. In many cases, we can preserve the tooth by performing a root canal. Do not delay treatment. Give us a call now if you are experiencing any type of dental complaint.
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Dr. Jeannie A. Molato, DMD has created this informative blog to help educate the Simi Valley community on topics related to oral health and dentistry. (805) 317-4999
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