Like the rest of the tissues in your body, your teeth are alive and require blood and nutrients to thrive. However, while teeth are meant to last a lifetime, sometimes decay, trauma, or gum disease can cause a tooth to die prematurely and affect both your appearance and your oral health.
Do you have a dying tooth? Here are the signs to look for and how to potentially treat and manage the affected tooth to protect your smile.
Signs and Symptoms of a Dying Tooth
The inside of your tooth contains a hollow chamber where and blood vessels and nerves keep the tooth alive and healthy. The nerves will also let you know if there is an issue with your tooth by causing pain or discomfort if infection or inflammation is present.
However, if a tooth is dying, this nerve tissue may be impacted by decay, trauma, or infection. As a result, some people may experience pain while others may not feel much of anything . You can usually tell if a tooth is dying because:
- The tooth may turn a different color than the rest of the teeth
- You have chronic bad breath
- There’s a bad or unusual taste in your mouth
- Your tooth (or teeth) are sensitive
- There is swelling on one side of your face
A dying tooth can typically be identified on an x-ray during a routine dental appointment.
How to Manage and Treat Dying Teeth
The sooner you can identify and treat a dying tooth, the better chance you will have to successfully restore your tooth and minimize any discoloration. If you believe you have a dying tooth, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible.
However, unless they are causing severe pain, dying teeth generally aren’t a dental emergency.
So what are your management and treatment options?
- Management. Managing a dying tooth is only recommended when you cannot see your dentist right away. To manage a dying tooth, avoid chewing on the side of your mouth where the tooth is, if possible, and manage pain by using cold compresses and using over-the-counter medication.
- Treatment. Treatment options for a dying tooth can vary depending on your specific smile, but the most common treatment is root canal therapy. Root canal therapy allows your dentist to remove the affected tissue inside the tooth and seal up the chamber with a biocompatible material to avoid an extraction .
In some cases, a dying tooth may need to be extracted, which is why seeking medical care sooner rather than later is important. With timely intervention, a dying tooth can be saved.
Is Your Tooth Dying?
If your tooth is dying, don’t panic. If you are experiencing severe swelling, pain, or a fever, seek emergency medical care. If your symptoms can wait, make a dental appointment with your regular dentist. Whether or not you are symptomatic, a dying tooth should never be ignored!