A dead tooth isn’t the end of that tooth’s utility – while the tooth might be dead, its structure may still be used for a wide variety of treatments. We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though – first, it’s important to understand exactly what a dead tooth is:
How Teeth Die
A dead tooth is a tooth to which the blood supply has been cut off – without any blood, the tissues inside the tooth (known as the pulp) die.
There are two ways a tooth might die. The first is from physical trauma. Typically, this is blunt force trauma from things like sporting injuries. Occasionally, it might occur if you grind or clench your teeth – sustained force could create inflammation which cuts off the blood supply to the tooth.
The second, and much more common, way for teeth to die is through infection. Cavities in your teeth create a space for bacteria to travel into the pulp; from there, infection creates inflammation and cuts off the blood supply. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to visit your dentist regularly – unchecked cavities can result in dead teeth.
Signs You Have a Dead Tooth
There are two primary symptoms that could indicate a dead tooth. The first of these is pain. You should always go to the dentist if you’re experiencing regular tooth pain – it could be the sign of a more serious problem.
The second common symptom is discolouration – your tooth will begin to take on a darker colour, and may turn grey or black.
What to Expect
When it comes to dead teeth, dentists have two options: extraction or root canal treatment. Root canal treatment is generally the preferred of the two options – after a root canal, your dentist can place a crown over the dead tooth, using its structure to restore functionality (if not life).
Root canal treatments are a far less painful process than they once were. Your dentist will clean out the pulp of your tooth, eliminating infection. They’ll then fill the root canal to protect against infection, and place a crown over the affected tooth.
Extraction is the less desirable option, as it will leave you without a tooth. This can affect your bite and lead to problems in the long-term. Implants and other tooth replacement options are typically more expensive than a root canal treatment and crown.
Optimally, you’ll never get a dead tooth to begin with, so you’ll never need a root canal. Should your tooth die, your Winnipeg dentist will figure out why it died, and help you decrease your risk of another tooth’s death by giving you tools and techniques to avoid the causes of tooth death. This might be fitting you for a mouthguard, helping with your oral health routine to avoid cavities, or a number of other things.