Know About Dead Tooth: The Symptoms, Causes & Risks

Dead Tooth

The teeth is plays a crucial role in the mouth. A healthy tooth has numerous layers, the outermost, strongest, visible layer is known as the enamel. The other layers of the tooth are known as dentin, and pulp. The pulp is the inner part of the tooth that contains all the necessary tissues and vessels to keep the tooth alive.

The pulp contains the nerve tissue and the blood vessels needed for continuous blood (nutrients and oxygen) supply to the tooth. Just like most other body tissues, the pulp can become injured and may die if it’s not able to repair itself. Moreover, if an injured pulp is left untreated, it will likely become infected and can result to serious health problems.

In this article, we will look at those things that can injure the pulp and the common symptoms of dead tooth. You will also learn how to identify this dental condition, how it can be treated and prevented.

What is dead tooth?

A dead tooth is a tooth that has dying or dead nerve tissues within its pulp. In dentistry, a dead tooth is sometimes referred to as necrotic pulp, a pulpless tooth or non vital by dental professionals. The tooth will become dead if the nerves and blood vessels, contained in its pulp dies due to lack of much-needed nutrients and oxygen. A stop in blood supply to the pulp, is one of the main reasons why a tooth will die.

However, having the name “Dead Tooth” does not actually mean that the tooth is not important and functional just like every other healthy teeth. A non vital tooth may still remain functional, but it’s not advisable to keep them though. As we continue on this article, you will get to know some of the health risks associated with dead tooth. But first before that, let me show you some of the common symptoms and signs to identify a dead tooth.

Symptoms of dead tooth

Well, it’s not always easy to know whether your tooth is dead or not. A dying tooth pulp may not be easily identified just by looking at it, especially at the early stage. But a dental professional can tell you for sure, this is one of the reasons why it’s so important to visit a dentist regularly for frequent professional dental check-ups.

If you suspect you have a dead tooth, there are two main symptoms to look for. The first two symptoms that I mentioned below are the main symptoms of a dead tooth.

  • Pain: extreme tooth pain and sensitivity are the first two, common indicator that your tooth is dead. The pain can be so excruciating because of the periodontal membrane which contains exposed highly sensitive nerve endings around the tooth. The pain can become more intense with the increased number of bacteria, dead nerve remnants, or pus inside the pulp cavity.
  • Discoloration: there is usually a change of tooth when the living part of the pulp are dying or dead due to the lack of blood supply. The tooth may change to different colors as it dies. At first the tooth might change to yellow, then to gray, and eventually to black. The black coloration is usually caused by the accumulated remnants of the dead tissues at the pulp cavity.
  • There are also other symptoms that you can experience as the tooth becomes more infected or abscesses. You may also experience other symptoms such as foul smell from the tooth, bad taste in the mouth, inflamed sores on the gums and also swelling of the periodontal membrane around the tooth.

Causes Of Dead Tooth

1.Tooth Decay: Tooth decay usually begins on the tooth’s outermost layer, without proper treatments it can result to cavities which can penetrate into deeper layers of the tooth. Once cavities have eventually gotten to the pulp, it creates pathway for bacteria to have access to the tooth pulp. The presence of bacteria in the pulp increases pressure inside the pulp cavity, the blood flow will eventually stop and the nerves will starve.

Although, the white blood cells will try to fight off the infection with an inflammatory reaction. But the blood cells cannot hold them forever, without help the nerves will die.

2. Dental Trauma: a physical trauma to the tooth maybe as a result of sports injury or a fall can make the blood vessels to burst. The injury can result in a loss of blood flow and the eventual death of the nerve and other living tissues within the pulp.

Treatments for dead tooth

Dead or dying tooth is not something that you should ignore. If you suspect that you have a dead or dying tooth, don’t hesitate to see a dental professional. The tooth might be painless at the start, but it could become extremely painful overtime.

However, there are steps that can be taken to possibly save the tooth or at least keep it from becoming infected. During treatments, the dentist diagnose the tooth in order to determine the extent of the damage inside the tooth and the best way to repair it. Here are the available treatments options for dead tooth:

  • Tooth extraction: extraction will be recommended if the damages on the tooth are too severe that the dentist can’t save the tooth. Early detection and treatments for death tooth is always very important. Tooth extraction is a relatively cheap standard procedure that can be done quickly with little or no discomforts. Although, the price for the procedure will be very high if you want to replace that tooth with a prosthetic tooth. You can check here to see – the cost of tooth extraction.
  • Root Canal: root canal treatment is very effective for treating dead tooth, provided that the tooth is not broken. The procedure involves a deep cleaning of the inside of a tooth to remove infected tissue or abscess, removal of the pulp, and cleaning of the tooth canals. The main aim of having a root canal treatment is to clear out infected and dead tissues from the tooth canal. After the root canal treatment, a dental crown can be fitted on the tooth in order to add strength and support to the tooth.


Having healthy teeth and gums is essential to your overall health. There are varieties of minerals and vitamins that your teeth and gums needs to stay healthy. Try to eat healthy meals which contains most of the necessary nutrients and minerals required for general maintenance of your teeth and oral tissues. Taking enough fruits and vegetables can help to ensure that your teeth get adequate nutrition. Read here to see – ways to strengthen your tooth enamel.

Practicing a good oral hygiene and habits can play a significant role in the prevention of dead tooth. Regular professional dental cleaning and examinations plus daily flossing and brushing will help to lower the risk of developing cavities and dead tooth. However, physical dental trauma can’t always be avoided, wearing a gum shield or mouth guard is usually recommended when playing sports. If you grind your teeth at night, you might as well consider a wearing nighttime mouth guard or you can try other treatments to stop teeth grinding(Bruxism).

In addition, avoid frequent chewing on ice or opening anything with your teeth as they can make your teeth to crack. Remember, bacteria can also enter the pulp through a cavity or crack in the tooth’s exterior. If your tooth is cracked or broken, you should seek for proper treatments before it leads to more serious health issues.

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