What is a dead tooth?


Quick Answer

According to Ala Moana Dental Care, a dead tooth is any tooth that has permanent damage to its inner nerve. Trauma, decay, excessive clenching of the teeth and gum disease can all result in the death of a tooth. It is important for patients to explore treatment options to prevent an unchecked infection from taking hold in the dead tooth and overwhelming surrounding bone, causing further damage to other teeth.

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What is a dead tooth?
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Full Answer

Prior to a tooth dying as a result of a cavity or infection, there is often a great deal of sensitivity in the tooth. According to Jaklin Bezic, DDS, MDS, when the pain is ignored, the infection reaches the inner nerve of the tooth, and the body attempts to fight it off by producing white blood cells. However, if the infection is still not treated, the white blood cells die off, and the tooth's blood supply ceases. This also occurs during an injury when blood supply is cut off instantly. Often, a dead tooth becomes blackened or yellowed as a result of the visibility of the dead pulp inside the tooth, and it eventually becomes loose. A dead tooth must either be removed to prevent additional infection or a root canal can be performed to save the tooth.

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