A dead tooth describes a tooth that is either suffering from infection or cavity or is generally damaged beyond repair. However while teeth can ‘die’ in this way, it is worth noting that the definition for ‘alive’ when it comes to teeth is quite different to being alive as a human or an animal. After all a tooth doesn’t need to move in any way in order to be alive, and it doesn’t need to make any kind of sound… as such, surely a tooth stands more chance of re-animation than a person?
What Is a Dead Tooth?
Your teeth have beneath them something called ‘pulp’. This is a soft tissue which is situated just below the gyms of the teeth and near the root. It’s just is to help maintain your tooth’s health and solidness by providing it with the necessary nutrients and minerals to stay strong.
However if this pulp should become infected, then the nerves and lymphatic vessels can become inflamed and will eventually decay which is when your tooth is ‘dead’ and likely to fall out or fall apart when you are eating.
Other trauma can also cause damage to a tooth which might lead to your tooth being described as ‘dead’.
How to Save a Dead Tooth
Saving a dead tooth is achieved via a root canal. This is a relatively invasive and unpleasant infection that can nevertheless save the tooth by cleaning the infection or removing the decaying portion of pulp. During the procedure anaesthesia will be used in order to numb the pain, before a dental drill is used on the chew-portion of the mid-section of the tooth – this is the way ‘in’ and from here a small chamber inside will be cleaned using a thin rod. A filling will then be used in order to close the opening which will either be pushed through by finger or using a drill or hand piece.
While this can be a very painful procedure for many people it is worth it in order to avoid losing teeth which are highly precious and crucial for our general health. At the same time it is also important to treat the dead tooth itself which can cause severe headaches, jaw ache and gum pains, which can spread to infect other teeth, and which can cause severe halitosis (bad breath).
If you opt to forgo a root canal then you will need to have a tooth extraction – basically having it pulled. This is of course painful as well, and will leave you with a gap which can cause other problems.
Another option is to use a dental implant in which a fake denture is screwed into the jaw and gum in order to fill the gap with a new tooth that is just as strong and secure as your old tooth (and possibly even better looking). Again though this is a painful and invasive procedure.