Your Dentist Explains What it Means to Have a “Dead” Tooth

professional woman smilingIs it time to say a little prayer for one of your teeth? There are several things that can cause a dead tooth — namely tooth decay and injury. Keep reading to learn more about how to tell if you have a dead tooth, and how your dentist in Lancaster County can help to treat it.

What Are the Symptoms of a Dead Tooth?

When a tooth is dead, its interior tissue (also known as the “pulp”) has been damaged. This is where the nerves of the tooth lie, protected by two harder outer layers called the dentin and enamel. Because the interior of the tooth houses the sensory tissue, you are likely to notice persistent pain related to a dead tooth. In addition to a dull ache, the affected tooth may also change color, becoming dark gray or black.

How Is a Dead Tooth Treated?

Schedule an appointment with your dentist right away if you think you have a dead tooth. Getting treatment ASAP is important, as infection that develops may quickly spread throughout the body and put your overall health at risk.

The two options for treating a dead tooth include:

  • Root canal: A procedure in which the dead tissue is removed from the interior of the tooth and refilled with a biocompatible material called gutta percha. A sturdy crown or filling is placed on top of the tooth. The procedure doesn’t cause any discomfort thanks to anesthesia and sedation, and the vast majority of teeth restored with a root canal can last for years and years.
  • Extraction: If the tooth cannot be saved with a root canal, your dentist will recommend extraction as a last resort. This is a simple procedure in which the tooth is gradually worked free from the bone using a forceps-like instrument. Once it has been properly loosened, the tooth will easily come free.

Preventing Tooth Damage

Your dentist can provide a comfortable, effective solution for a dead tooth — but of course, it is best to prevent the need for this procedure altogether. In order to keep your smile healthy and complete, make sure you maintain excellent oral hygiene by brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist as recommended every six months. And to save yourself from dead teeth caused by injury, wear a protective mouthguard when you play contact sports and avoid damaging habits like nail biting, pen chewing, and eating ice.

Now that you know a little more about how to tell if you have a dead tooth and how they’re treated, you’ll be prepared in the event that one happens to you. Seek treatment for this oral health hazard right away — we can help rescue your smile in no time!

About Mor Smiles

Mor Smiles is a general dentistry practice offering full-service dental care for patients of all ages. If you suspect (or know) you have a dead tooth, please do not wait to get in touch with your family dentist in Lancaster County. Book a visit by calling the office at 717-961-5767.


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