Believe it or not, teeth have life. You can confirm it by the pain when anything happens to them, and the blood flows. So, if a tooth is alive, it can be dead as well. You may have a dead tooth. You have to look at the symptoms and get dental care as soon as possible.

What Is A Dead Tooth?

It is a situation when owing to an injury or decay, the blood supply to the tooth stops. A fast-coming soccer ball, a brawl, or ignorance to dental health can cause a dead tooth. Your tooth is made up of two types of layers- soft and hard. Apart from the crown that you see, there is a softcore. When the tiny nerves inside that soft pulp get damaged, it causes a dead tooth.

What Are The Signs Of A Dead Tooth?

Your body always tells you about the problems it’s facing. In the same way, your tooth will tell you that it is suffering. It may start with pain or swelling of the gum. A nerve is dying, and it may cause mild, moderate, or intense pain. When you brush your teeth, always check for any problems even though you are not feeling any pain.

Normally, your teeth are white or a little off-white. The color of your teeth depends on your diet. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or lots of coffee, it causes discoloration of teeth. In the case of a dead tooth, it looks more yellow and distinguishes it from others. Sometimes, it may look grey, brown, or even black. It is a flashing neon sign telling you, see a doctor.

If you experience bad breath, swelling in your gums, or bad taste, these are also signs. A dead tooth may take a few days to die, or it can take months. The recommendation here is to see a doctor straight away.

Why Does A Tooth Die?

There are several reasons for a dead tooth. If you had an injury, it could cause death as the nerves inside the tooth get damaged and die slowly. If you do not brush properly, it can also cause a dead tooth. If you don’t brush properly, the cavity starts to take place in your teeth’ enamel. It spreads and causes decay.

How To Find Out About The Dead Tooth?

If you have any of the signs mentioned above or had an injury recently, see the doctor. An X-ray will confirm.

How To Treat A Dead Tooth?

There are several ways in which you can save your dying tooth.

Take Care Of The Pain

If you are out of the station and don’t have access to your dentist, take some precautions and keep the pain away. Do not eat or drink anything that can scale the damage.

  • Do not drink hot drinks.
  • Do not eat hard foods.
  • Do take medication to keep the pain at bay.

These precautions are temporary until you fix a doctor’s appointment.

Root Canal

You can go for this option if your tooth has not reached the end of its life.

Root Canal is the procedure where the dentist clears away the infection and the pulp and fills the core, and seals it. If your outer tooth was damaged, it might need a new crown. In the case of a tooth with a large filling, it may go brittle with time, requiring a new crown. The damaged part is filed away, and a crown is molded on the tooth. It is designed to match your tooth and its color as well.

A crown is not required in all cases, though. You can go with a porcelain veneer. Your dentist may recommend bleaching the tooth to get rid of the discoloration caused by dying nerves.

Tooth Extraction Or Removal

If your tooth is past the saving stage, it is removed altogether. For example, if it was a posterior tooth and you are not bothered by the gap, you can leave it. However, there are ways to replace your removed teeth through denture, implant, or bridge. You should consult your doctor about what would be best for you, how much it will cost, and the recovery process.

How To Prevent A Dead tooth?

Some general tips and care can help you prevent a dead tooth in many cases, as one of the primary reasons for a dead tooth is a lack of proper oral hygiene. Follow these tips to prevent a dead tooth.

  • Brushing your teeth twice daily is essential. Make flossing a part of oral hygiene.
  • Drink lots of water after eating to remove any stuck food from between the teeth.
  • Avoid foods that can cause damage to the teeth and the color. Always brush your teeth after eating sweets as they invite germs much faster.
  • Make regular visits to the dentist to keep your teeth healthy.
  • If participating in sports, wear a mouthguard. An injury can cause not one but several dead teeth.


A dead tooth does not always mean removal. You can save your tooth if you are attentive. Take proper care of your teeth. If you see any of the signs, book an appointment as soon as possible. The sooner you find it, the sooner you can treat it. 


Published by Dr. Daniel Bronsky

Dr. Daniel is an orthodontist at Invis London.

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