What Is a Dead Tooth?

Cartoon image of a boy with a dead tooth in Las Cruces, NM

In this blog post, we’ll review what it means to have a “dead tooth”, as well as suggest how to prevent a dead tooth.

Causes of a Dead Tooth

The innermost layer of a tooth consists of a bundle of soft tissue, blood vessels, and nerve endings, called the pulp. Essentially, this is the only part of your tooth that is considered alive. When the blood supply to the nerves in the pulp become damaged due to decay or trauma, the nerves starve and die.

A tooth with a dead nerve is said to be “non-vital” because its nerve has lost its vitality and life. The pulp will begin to decay, which then becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. The accumulation of bacteria inside your tooth can lead to pain, infection that spreads to your jaw, and tooth loss.

Keep in mind that a “non-vital” tooth has not lost all function. A dead nerve means it can’t sense hot, cold, and pressure anymore, but the tooth is still useful and important! Because of this, we recommend seeking urgent treatment for your dead tooth at our dental office in Las Cruces, NM. We can determine the best course of treatment to protect your oral health and preserve the appearance of your smile.

How to Prevent a Dead Tooth

You can develop a dead tooth due to mouth trauma, like during a contact sport or a bad fall, or an untreated cavity. Therefore, you should wear a custom-fitted athletic mouthguard while playing sports to protect your teeth from injury, and keep up with your preventive oral care. This includes daily brushing and flossing, plus routine dental checkups and cleanings.

Signs of a Dead Tooth

But how do you know if you have a dead tooth? You may experience any number of the following:

  • Yellow, gray, or even black discoloration of your tooth due to dying red blood cells
  • Tooth pain & sensitivity
  • Bad breath
  • A persistent strange taste in your mouth
  • Swelling around your gums

Schedule Your Next Checkup!

Let us know if you notice any of these red flags! Because no matter the state of your oral health, our team at Las Cruces Dental Solutions is here for you and your loved ones. We offer a comprehensive array of dental services that can address all your family’s oral health concerns.

Even if you think your teeth are in great shape, you should still schedule twice-yearly dental examinations and cleanings. At these appointments, we’ll evaluate your teeth and gums for problems that are difficult to notice at home. And early detection and treatment means a better outcome for your health and your wallet! So contact us today to schedule your next checkup.


Achieve and maintain healthy teeth with Las Cruces Dental Solutions!

Photo by Authority Dental under CC 2.0

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