Have you been told that you have a dead tooth? This can be confusing for many patients; especially those that don’t realize their teeth were alive to begin with. Your teeth are very much alive if they are taken care of and receiving a healthy blood supply. However, a tooth can die. While there are several advanced procedures in restorative dentistry to repair a dying tooth, there are times when a tooth is beyond repair. Understanding the distinct layers of a tooth can help you understand why and how this occurs.
Teeth are composed of three layers, the enamel (outer protective layer), the dentin (the inner, middle layer), and the pulp (nerve center). The white enamel layer is the one you are probably most familiar with, as it is what you brush and show off when you smile. However, the dentin and pulp of your tooth are what sustain the life of the tooth. When decay, disease or trauma are too extensive to be repaired by a filling, crown or root canal, the tooth may be deemed dead and need removal.
A simple cavity that requires a filling refers to a small hole in the enamel of your tooth. If untreated, the acids can eat away at the inner layers of your tooth and cause significant pain if it reaches the pulp. A root canal can save an infected tooth in many cases. However, if the disease or damage has cut off the blood supply to the tooth for too long, the tooth may no longer be salvageable. In such cases, a tooth extraction is recommended.
A dead tooth can also occur after a severe dental injury or mouth trauma when the tooth is avulsed and severed from its life sustaining vessels. In some cases where immediate dental intervention is sought, the tooth can be placed back into the original socket and reattached to the vessels. Always call your dentist during this type of emergency, as you may be able to save your tooth even if it has been knocked out of your mouth completely.
If you notice tooth darkening, this may be a telltale sign that you have a dead tooth. This is essentially your tooth bruising as the blood vessels die off. Some patients may suffer from pain, and it can be severe if the nerve is dying or an abscess is present. If you don’t seek treatment for a dying tooth, it will eventually loosen and fall out.
Dr. Wayne Suway works hard to help patients preserve their natural teeth. However if dead tooth removal is necessary, we provide unsurpassed care in implant dentistry to replace your missing tooth. Remember that there are serious consequences if you don’t replace a missing tooth, including shifting adjacent teeth, bite misalignment and bone loss.