What Causes a Dead Tooth?
As we mentioned earlier, a dead tooth – also known as a non-vital tooth, is a tooth where the blood circulation has stopped. How does this happen? Well, usually, when there is a cavity in the tooth then this infection tends to spread inwards. This spreads to the dentin, when a person begins to feel sensitivity. Then, if the infection is not dealt with at this stage, it progresses towards the pulp. Now, when it reaches the pulp, the pulp tends to flare up so as to fight this infection off. This is the stage where a person experiences severe tooth pain. The pulp makes use of white blood cells to fight this infection. There is formation of pus and a few white blood cells die. This leads to an increase in the pressure in the tooth, and an immense amount of pain. If the infection progresses further, then all the white blood cells eventually die and the blood flow to the tooth stops as a result of which the tooth becomes dead. This reaction may also be seen in cases where the person has had some kind of severe trauma to the tooth, which instantly renders the tooth non-vital.
Symptoms of a Dead Tooth
As such, it is easier to spot a dead tooth with the help of the history that is provided by the patient rather than looking for symptoms of it in the mouth. At times, it may be very difficult to diagnose a dead tooth merely by looking at it. However, there are a few tell tale signs related to it. If a tooth is dead or non-vital, then it is most likely going to be discolored, and will have a blackish hue to it. This can be attributed to the dead pulp inside reflecting out on the outside. Secondly, there may be a swelling present in relation to this tooth. This in turn, can be attributed to an abscess that will develop due to the inability of the person to deal with this condition sooner. At times, this abscess may get punctured, and result in draining sinus.
If there is a very long standing dead tooth, then not only will it be sufficiently discolored but it may also start shaking. A healthy tooth is firmly held in the socket by the jawbone. If a tooth infection progresses into a tooth abscess, then it could damage the adjoining jawbone. When this jawbone gets destroyed, the grip of the tooth in the jawbone becomes lesser. Thus, the tooth begins to shake in the oral cavity. There also exist some other obvious symptoms, like dead tooth smell can also reflect in form of bad breath at times. The person may also experience sensitivity to hot and cold foods or severe tooth ache due to a dead nerve in tooth.
A dead tooth needs to be treated at the earliest for many reasons. First of all, this tooth harbors a long standing infection which is slowly spreading to the adjoining areas of the jaw. Secondly, it is discolored and so, appears unsightly in the mouth. Lastly, if the infection from this tooth spreads further, it could infect the jaw and cause many other problems. Taking the severity of this condition into consideration, it becomes utmost important to get a root canal treatment done for this tooth. In some cases, fitting it with a cap after the root canal treatment may also become necessary.
Sometimes, as mentioned earlier, the tooth may appear to be normal and may look perfectly healthy but it is only the history of the patient that helps, and guides the dentist. So, this is a condition that is relatively tricky to deal with when it comes to oral cavity problems. If you suspect that you may be suffering from this condition, then the best bet is to pay a visit to your local dentist at the earliest, so that he can carry out a prompt diagnosis on the basis of your medical history and symptoms, and initiate treatment for the same at the earliest.