A dead tooth can go undetected for a long period of time. Dentists speak of a dead tooth when it is no longer supplied with nutrients via the nerves and blood vessels (technical term pulp). A dead tooth cannot be saved, but professional treatment can at least ensure that it remains in the dentition for a longer period of time.
- A tooth is considered dead when it no longer has any connection to the pulp and as a result, a supply of nutrients is no longer possible.
- The most common cause of a dead tooth is inflammation caused by poor oral hygiene.
- A dead tooth turns gray over time, it loses its shine and becomes unstable.
- Since a dead tooth can lead to secondary diseases, you should definitely consult a dentist if you suspect it.
Causes of a dead tooth
There are several causes of a dead tooth. In most cases, a dead tooth is due to pulpitis – the death of the tissue inside the tooth caused by inflammation. Sometimes an accident is also responsible for damage to the pulp.
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Why does a tooth die?
The most common trigger for the dying of the pulp is inadequate oral hygiene in combination with inadequate preventive care. In the event of insufficient care, deposits form between tooth and gums, which are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. These attack the tooth substance, causing tooth decay to form. If the pathogens penetrate to the tooth nerve, they also attack and destroy it. As a result of the damage, the tooth is no longer adequately supplied with nutrients.
What are the symptoms of a dead tooth?
A dead tooth is often preceded by inflammation, which often causes severe pain. If the symptoms suddenly stop, there is no reason to be happy. The cause of the decreasing pain is usually a dead tooth nerve. There are other signs of a dead tooth:
- The affected tooth loses its shine and turns gray.
- The tooth substance loses its stability, causing pieces of the tooth to break off.
- When the tooth is loaded, so-called bite pain occurs.
- Swelling can be observed (only in the case of inflammation).
A dentist can use a vitality test to determine whether a tooth is still alive. To do this, he uses a cotton ball soaked with cold spray, which he holds to the tooth. If the patient perceives the stimulus, the tooth has not yet died. On the other hand, if he does not feel anything, the doctor will knock the tooth off (percussion test). If it does not respond to pressure either, this is another indication that it is a dead tooth. An X-ray can also provide information about this.
Does a dead tooth always cause pain?
No, a dead tooth does not necessarily have to hurt. It is also possible that symptoms will be absent for a long time. However, only if there is no inflammation. The hard enamel of the tooth breaks down quite slowly. Due to the lack of nutrients, the risk of bacterial infestation increases, so that symptoms usually arise after a while.
What are the consequences of a dead tooth?
You should definitely have a dead tooth treated. Otherwise, chronic inflammation can develop, which ultimately leads to tooth loss. If putrefactive processes take place in the dead tooth pulp, there is a risk that the bacteria will get into the jaw and, in the worst case, spread even further. Then, depending on the patient’s state of health, various complications can occur:
- Eczema and skin diseases
- Rheumatic diseases
- Headache or migraine
- Attacks of pain (neuralgia)
- Inflammation in individual organs
- Difficulty concentrating and chronic fatigue
Dead tooth: which dental treatments are possible?
The dentist always tries to preserve the affected tooth by means of a root canal treatment and / or a root tip resection (cutting of the tooth root tip ). In a root canal treatment, the inflamed tissue is first removed, then the root canals are sealed. If the therapy is unsuccessful (for example due to a severely curved tooth root), all that remains is a resection. The doctor shortens the root of the tooth by about two to three millimeters in order to more easily reach the inflamed tissue.
If the doctor cannot save the tooth even with an apicectomy, he has to extract it, i.e. pull it. The resulting gap can be closed with a bridge or an implant . It is also possible to use a removable denture.