What Is A Dead Tooth?


Sometimes due to trauma or decay, the nerves inside your tooth’s pulp can be damaged and stop the supply of blood to the tooth. An infection can develop and cause the death of a nerve, resulting in a non-vital tooth or dead tooth.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Dead Tooth?


If you notice discoloration, it may be the very first sign of a dead tooth. You may also experience a toothache or painful gums.

If your teeth become discolored due to your diet or oral hygiene habits, the discoloration will be the same for all teeth. However, the color change in a dying tooth will be different than in others. A dead tooth may appear black, gray, light brown, or yellow. The discoloration will likely become more prominent as the decay continues and the nerve dies.

Pain is another possible symptom. Some people don’t feel any pain. Others feel mild pain, and other people will feel intense pain. The dying nerve often causes pain. It can also be caused by infection.


Another symptom of a dead tooth is pain. One thing to note here is that some people experience no pain at all with a dead tooth. While few complain of slight discomfort, others feel extreme pain caused by the infection or the dying nerve.

Other signs to know if a tooth is dead of infection:

  • Foul taste in your mouth
  • Bad smell from your breath
  • swelling around your gum line

Causes Of Dead Tooth

  • Injury or trauma due to, for example, an accident or while playing sports.
  • Poor oral hygiene leads to cavities that slowly reach the pulp if not removed on time. Infection can develop in the pulp, cutting the blood supply and causing the pulp to die.

Dead Tooth Treatment

A dead tooth can stay in the mouth for days or even months. However, it’s important to treat or remove a dying or dead tooth right away because if it remains intact longer, the bacteria from the dead tooth can affect your other teeth, jaw, and gums.

Root Canal

Although saving the pulp at this stage makes no sense, it’s possible to save the dead tooth with a root canal.

During the procedure, an endodontist makes a hole in the tooth to remove the pulp and clear the infection. Next, the roots are sealed, and a permanent filling is placed( gutta-percha). Your tooth may need to be crowned after a root canal.

Tooth Extraction

If your dead tooth is badly damaged, it will need to be removed with a tooth extraction procedure. After the removal, you can fill the empty socket with a denture, implant, or dental bridge.

Pain management

If your dead tooth is causing you severe pain, you can try these home remedies to reduce the pain while you wait for your appointment.

  • Only eat soft and cold foods and drinks
  • Take OTC pain relievers
  • Avoid hard, crunchy food items and hot beverages

Prevention Tips

  • Brush and floss your teeth regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Wear a mouth guard while participating in contact sports
  • Visit your dentist twice yearly

Summing up

If you think your tooth is dead or dying, visit your dentist immediately. Early treatment can prevent further complications. To schedule an appointment with Lake Elsinore dentistry, call (951) 579-1010.


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