What Does a Dead Tooth Really Mean?

By Dr. Jacqueline Butler Mitchell
Tooth Talk

A dead tooth means the tooth no longer has a blood supply flowing to it.  All teeth have three layers: enamel, dentin, and pulp. The pulp is the layer that contains all the nerves and blood vessels. If this layer becomes damaged due to infection or trauma the tooth will begin to die if untreated.

Common Symptoms of a Dying or Dead Tooth?

• Pain: can be from moderate to excruciating.

• Abcess: bacteria, pus and infection may build up causing swelling and fever.

• Bad smell or bad taste in mouth that never seems to go away.

• Change in color of the tooth turning dark, almost gray or black in color.

What Causes a Dead Tooth?

• Cavities left untreated can eventually reach the pulp and cause the nerve to die.

• Trauma to the tooth such as from sports injury, car accident, or blunt force can cause the blood supply to be cut off to the tooth eventually causing the tooth to die.

Only 2 Treatment Options

• Root Canal: a dentist or endodontist will remove the infection from tooth and the root and seal it and the final restoration should be a crown.  

• Extraction: treatment for a tooth that is grossly decayed and can’t be saved nor restored with a root canal.

The best prevention to avoid a dead tooth is to develop good oral hygiene habits and to go to the dentist for your regular dental checkups so you can keep a healthy smile. 

I hope this Tooth Talk has helped and call Integrity Dental Care, PLLC (615) 445-8700 or email dr.jmitchell@integritydentalcares.com with any questions you may have.

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