It may be hard to consider, but despite your teeth being made of the hardest substance in the entire human body they can still die. Teeth require an access to constant blood flow, just like every other area of our bodies. A dead tooth, or non-vital tooth, is simply one that no longer has access to blood flow. The inside of a tooth is made up of the pulp where blood vessels and nerve fibers are located. Therefore, when the pulp of a tooth “dies” the tooth is considered to be dead.
Causes of a dead tooth vary, but there are two main origins. The first is trauma or injury to a tooth. Being hit in the mouth severely can knock the roots of the tooth root loose. If the roots are damaged to where they are unable to heal and reconnect themselves, there will be a loss of blood flow to the tooth. Severe trauma usually causes immediate death to a tooth.
Cavities and bacterial infections that are left untreated for too long can cause the death of a tooth because the infection and/or decay will travel deep into the tooth. With this, there is typically sensitivity associated with the tooth, and as it continues it will develop into severe tooth pain. The infection or decay reaches the pulp of the tooth, “zapping” the nerves – which is what causes the pain – and then killing them.
It is often difficult to identify a dead tooth when pain is not present, which is yet another reason why regular dental exams are vitally important to everyone. You or your child could have been hit in the side of the face three months ago, but because the tooth did not become knocked out it may be ignored or thought less of than the bruising or swelling from the injury. A dentist knows what to look for, and can identify a dead tooth. There are times when a dead tooth will become dark in appearance, with significant yellowing or blackening. This discoloration is usually the dead pulp becoming visible from inside the white enamel.
If you are worried that you may have a dead tooth, or you have received trauma to the face and you are concerned with any of your teeth, please contact Ashley Dinh, DDS today. Our practice is committed to providing safe, comfortable, and comprehensive care to restore the health of your entire mouth.
Posted on behalf Ashley Dinh, DDS
Ashley Dinh, DDS
107 E Holly Ave, Suite 5
Sterling, VA 20164
Monday – Friday 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM