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A tooth is considered “dead” or “non-vital” when it no longer receives an active supply of blood. There are three layers of a tooth – enamel, dentin and pulp. The pulp section contains the nerves and the blood vessels, which supplies blood to the tooth. A dead tooth occurs when these active nerves and blood vessels die due to damage, injury or decay.
Change in the color of the tooth is one of the most visible signs. A healthy tooth is usually a clear shade of white. A dead or dying tooth, however, often appears to be a vivid yellow or a brown color, eventually turning to grey or black. Experiencing pain in that area of the mouth is another common indicator, which can be caused by infection or dying nerves. Swelling, bad breath and having a bad taste in your mouth can also be possible signs of a dead tooth.
The main causes of a dead tooth can be divided into two categories – tooth decay and trauma to the tooth. Tooth decay can occur when a patient practices poor dental hygiene and untreated tooth cavities penetrate into the deeper layers of the tooth. Tooth trauma can occur by incidents such as getting hit in the mouth by a hard object or falling and hitting your mouth hard against something. These incidents result in irreversible damages to the protective layers and the pulp of the tooth, eventually causing a dead tooth.
Your dentist carries out a full diagnosis of a compromised tooth by observing the symptoms and often with the help of an Exam and X-ray. It is advisable that you see your Longmont dentist at the first sign of symptoms or immediately after experiencing any kind of trauma to the teeth. This way the dentist can diagnose the patient early-on and start the necessary treatment in order to prevent extensive damages.
The treatment of a dead tooth is often starts with pain management. Until you make an appointment with your dentist, you can take over-the-counter pain medication to ease the pain.
Root Canal Treatment is the most commonly used procedure to treat any infections caused the pulp of the tooth. It is done by using a small instrument to remove the infected pulp of the tooth, disinfecting the area, and then sealing the root with a permanent filling. Often, a root canal therapy is followed by a crown replacement, since the tooth can become brittle after the treatment.
When the tooth is beyond the treatment and repair level, the dentist has to extract it in order to prevent any further damage or spread of infection. It is a minor surgery that is done after an injecting a local anaesthetic to numb the area. The gap remaining can be filled with an implant, a denture or a bridge, as recommended by your dentist.
An infected dying tooth can cause mild to severe pain depending on how deep the infection has developed. The first step that should be taken when experiencing a toothache is making an appointment with your dentist. Meanwhile, it is advisable to stop drinking hot beverages since it can increase the inflammation, and to avoid biting down on hard food or objects since the pressure can aggravate the pain. You can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication as you wait for the appointment. Your dentist may prescribe you pain relief medication if the pain is too severe.
Practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to avoid the development of any kind of dental problems. In order to practice good oral hygiene, you must brush and floss your teeth twice daily.
Regular visits to your Longmont dental clinic (at least once every 6 months) can ensure you are able to maintain good oral hygiene and for the purpose of early detection if there are signs of tooth decay or gum disease.
For those who participate in sports such as hockey or boxing, it is recommended to always wear a mouth guard to avoid any trauma that can be caused to the teeth.
A healthy consumption of water during the day washes away bacteria regularly, can help with preventing the development of tooth infections.