Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment for Dead Teeth

Woman experiencing toothache

Woman experiencing toothacheThe hardest substance in the human body is found in your teeth—your tooth enamel. Because the enamel covering your teeth is tough, it plays a big role in keeping your pearly whites healthy.

You’ll find in many oral health publications how important it is to keep the tooth enamel intact. It’s the outermost layer of the teeth, after all. Next, there’s the dentin, and finally, the pulp. If you have poor dental hygiene, you may develop cavities that will destroy your teeth.

Causes of Dead Tooth

According to, the dental damage that can lead to tooth infections is common. But, left untreated, cavities can eat away at each layer of a tooth and reach the pulp. Once cavities damage your tooth’s pulp, you may experience extreme pain. This is because the nerves in the pulp get infected and eventually, they die.

Physical trauma to the teeth also causes them to die. Often, sports injuries or high-impact falls may cause the blood vessels in your teeth to burst. This cuts off the blood supply, killing the nerve and other tissues inside the dental pulp.

Signs of a Dead or Dying Tooth

It may not always be easy to identify a dead tooth. Only dental professionals can diagnose it, so trips to the dentist are important. Still, there are two main symptoms of a dead tooth that you may observe and experience.

  • Pain – From almost non-existent to outright painful, the nerve damage from a dead or dying tooth will make your mouth ache and throb. You may wonder if the nerves, whose main job is to carry signals like pain, are dead then why are you still feeling pain? This is because the pain isn’t coming from inside the pulp but from the periodontal membrane. The buildup of bacteria and dead nerve remnants inside the tooth puts pressure on the periodontal membrane, which is extremely sensitive, causing you immense pain.
  • Discoloration – When red blood cells in your tooth start dying, the color of your tooth will darken. The discoloration usually happens if a dead tooth goes untreated. You’ll see that the dead tooth will slowly turn yellow, gray, or black.

Treatments for a Dead Tooth

If you suspect that you may have a dead tooth based on the abovementioned symptoms, you should immediately seek medical advice. Depending on your dentist, you have the option of undergoing either of the two different treatments:

  • Root Canal – You may be able to keep your tooth intact with a root canal. During this procedure, the dentist will make an opening into the damaged tooth, remove the pulp, and clean out the infection. Afterward, your dentist will fill and seal the gap in your tooth.
  • Tooth Extraction – This method can be done if your tooth was severely damaged and cannot be restored through a root canal. In this procedure, your dentist will remove the damaged tooth completely. Don’t fret, though. You can always opt to replace it with an implant or denture.

Damaging your tooth so much that it dies isn’t good for your oral health. Give more importance to your oral hygiene to prevent complications like the death of a tooth.