What is a dead tooth?

Our teeth are made up of three layers, enamel, dentine, and pulp. Enamel is the outermost protective layer of the tooth structure. It is the most calcified and strongest substance in the human body and resists dental decay. The next layer is the dentine, which is a little less calcified than enamel and encases the core of the tooth, the pulp. The dental pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues and keeps the tooth alive. 

In situations where the blood supply to the tooth through the vessels in the pulp is cut down or disrupted, the tooth loses its vitality and is considered to be dead. 

Advanced dental decay, trauma, or injury to the tooth can cause a tooth to die. For example, getting hit on the face by, let’s say, a football or suffering a fall that causes a tooth to hit something can stun the tooth and disrupt its blood supply.

Once the blood supply gets disrupted, the tooth changes its color. Usually, the first sign of a dead tooth is discoloration. It can turn brown, gray, or black. 

Since the tooth is dead, usually, there is no pain associated with it. However, if it’s a recent occurrence, some nerves may still be viable and may lead to pain. Other signs which can accompany a dead tooth are foul taste and bad breath, especially when the cause is dental cavities or gum diseases. You may also see swollen gums around the affected tooth. 

If you think you are suffering from a dying tooth, schedule an appointment with us at Wilmington Periodontics and Implants right away. Leaving a dead tooth untreated can be a source of further bacterial infection. An emergency root canal treatment becomes essential to treat a dead tooth. 

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