What is a dead tooth?


Dead teeth are an unfortunately all too common occurrence today. For many, a dead tooth is an irreversible condition that requires removal, but for some the tooth can actually be saved. Regardless, it’s a situation that normally requires immediate dental treatment in order to try and save the tooth and prevent the possibility of a major infection or decay / damage spreading to other teeth.

Initially, a dead tooth presents as either a tooth that’s turned black, or perhaps a tooth that’s now excessively loose. Sometimes, a dead tooth will have no symptoms whatsoever until you visit a dentist and he tells you. However, normally, a tooth turns black because the inner pulp has actually putrefied from decay. This can eventually lead to abscesses and other complications within the gums and periodontal bone. Given the risk of infection, surgical removal is always recommended.

Loose teeth can happen when a tooth becomes bruised or there’s been significant decay to the periodontal bone that holds it in place. The tooth eventually becomes loose and dies. While it might not be black, it’s only a matter of time until the tooth completely dies. Periodontal disease is what causes loose teeth and sadly, it’s a condition that’ll not only affect one tooth, but all of them.

Treatment, regardless of the condition is always to follow up with a dentist as quickly as possible. Normally when a dead tooth is prescribed, removal will be warranted to help protect neighboring teeth, ensure the periodontal bone isn’t compromised and to guard against future infection.

Thankfully, in some cases dentists can save ‘dead’ teeth by performing a root canal. This procedure which essentially cleans and disinfects the tooth is often performed just as dentists notice the tooth is about to die. What this procedure does is that it effectively kills the tooth before decay can set in, cleaning the interior thoroughly so it can then be sealed up and crowned.

The resulting tooth after a root canal is clinically dead, but for all intents and purposes serves as a normal tooth with a few exceptions being that there’s a metal / ceramic crown on top, and that you need to make sure that your dental hygiene is sufficient to keep plaque and tartar away from the dead tooth which needs to be protected.

Luckily, good hygiene and regular dental checkups can prevent almost most likelihoods of teeth ever getting to a condition when they simply just die. Thanks to modern dentistry, most dentists can save teeth with fillings and the likes long before they ever start to show signs of death.

In Japan, there are many initiatives to promote good oral hygiene – with one being the goal to ensure every citizen reaches 70 with a full set of teeth. While many might argue it’s impossible, with regular check-ups and good oral hygiene it really isn’t that hard. Taking care of your teeth is an important way in ensuring that you can have a healthy and enjoyable life.

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