Everything You Need to Know About a Dead or Non-Vital Tooth

All teeth in your mouth are alive and functioning elements, and like everything, they can die too. There are several reasons why a tooth or teeth might die. But no matter the reason, it is vital that you seek medical help immediately. In this informative blog, let’s take a closer look at the common signs and symptoms of a dead or non-vital tooth, as well as how this condition can be treated and prevented.

What is Non Vital Tooth?

Also known as a dead tooth, non-vital tooth is the one that no longer receives any fresh blood supply. This means that the tooth no longer has tissue and nerves inside. Our teeth are made of three layers: dental enamel (outside visible layer), dentin (second or middle layer) and pulp (centre layer of the teeth). The pulp is the softest layer, where arteries, nerves, and veins reside – all of which are responsible for the appropriate nourishment of the tooth. However, a tooth is considered dead when its blood vessels and nerves die due to tooth decay, damage or trauma. People with one or more dead teeth may experience discomfort and pain in and around it and display grey, black or yellow discolouration of the tooth.

Symptoms Of A Dead Tooth(Non-Vital Tooth)

It is not always easy to spot a dead or dying tooth just by looking at it. Only a dentist will be able to diagnose this complicated condition, which is why regular dental visits are vital. The two main symptoms of a dead tooth include tooth pain and tooth discolouration. When a tooth is dead or dying, patients may experience varying levels of pain, from unnoticeable to extreme. A dead tooth or non-vital can appear discoloured and is usually grey and yellow in appearance. It usually happens because the red blood cells are dead. 

There are, however, a few more red flags of a dead or non-vital tooth that can help with self-diagnosis. 

  • Tooth sensitivity 
  • Bad breath (halitosis) 
  • Loose teeth 
  • Gum swelling 
  • Bad taste in the mouth  
  • Gum pain 
  • A pimple on the gums 

If you notice one or more of these symptoms of a dead tooth, schedule an appointment with your dental professional as soon as possible.

Dead Tooth Causes

As we covered above, dental trauma, injury and tooth decay represent the main causes of a dead tooth or non-vital tooth. 

Tooth decay can be caused by several factors including lack of consistent oral hygiene habits (brushing and flossing), use of certain medications and a diet high in junk foods and sugary foods. If left unchecked, decay will damage the enamel and eventually travel to the innermost layer (pulp). In this case, the tooth pulp can become injured or infected. When the dental pulp is infected or injured to the point it cannot repair itself, it dies. You will likely experience severe pain once the decay has reached the soft tissue of your tooth. 

Even if you maintain a solid oral hygiene routine at home, it is still possible to suffer from a dead or non-vital tooth. Experiencing any physical trauma such as falling and hitting your face on a hard object, a sports injury or a blow to the face may cause the tooth to lose the blood supply, leading to the death of the dental pulp and eventually, the tooth.  

It is important to keep in mind that having a dead tooth is not the end of the world. Consulting a dental professional will get you back to having a healthy mouth, and there are countless treatment options available out there that can help cosmetically after getting a tooth pulled.

Treatment Options For A Dead Tooth

 A dead or non-vital tooth can be treated by any of the following dental procedures:

1. Root Canal Treatment

During this dental procedure, the dental professional will carefully remove the infected pulp tissue from the affected tooth, disinfect and clean the interior and seal the root. A dead tooth can function after undergoing the root canal treatment, but a porcelain veneer or dental crown may be required to provide additional support and strength. To learn more about root canal treatment, check out this informative blog https://dentistguidemaster.com.au/root-canal-treatment-and-procedure/

2. Tooth Extraction

In case the tooth cannot be restored or is severely damaged, then tooth extraction may be only the best alternative. During a tooth extraction, your dental professional will remove or extract the affected tooth. However, the removed or extracted tooth can be replaced with a dental implant, bridge or denture.

Prevention Of A Dead Tooth

To prevent a dead tooth: 

  • Maintain good oral hygiene 
  • Drink plenty of water, especially after eating something 
  • Limit the intake of sugary beverages and foods 
  • Wear a mouth-guard while playing sports 
  • Schedule regular dental visits for cleanings and check-ups

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) About a Dead Tooth

Here are some of the commonly asked questions about a dead tooth:

1. What Is A Dead Tooth?

A tooth is said to be non-vital or dead when it stops getting the blood flow. It is a condition caused by either tooth decay or injury.

2. How is a Dead Tooth Diagnosed?

A dental professional may spot a dead or dying tooth during regular dental check-ups and through dental X-rays.

3. What Are the Symptoms Of A Dead Tooth?

  • Pain in the jaw and tooth 
  • Loose tooth 
  • Tooth discoloration 
  • Persistent bad breath 
  • Bad taste in the mouth

Over To You

If you are worried that your tooth or teeth have died, book an appointment with your dentist right away to learn more about the available treatment options.