Dead Tooth: 3 Main Causes, Treatment and Prevention


A dead tooth or a non vital tooth occurs when the connective tissues in a tooth is damaged and the flow of blood in tooth stops. A healthy tooth is very much alive because the soft and hard tissues (connective tissue) that develop the teeth are functioning.

Dead tooth is also an indicator of some underlying tooth problems such as injury or decay. A dead tooth must be treated quickly to prevent it from getting infected. If it gets infected, it will have a negative effect on that gums, the jaw and other teeth causing more complications. It may be very painful, discomforting and irritating.

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In this article, you will get to know the causes as well as ways to treat and prevent a dead tooth.

Layers of a Tooth

A tooth has three different layers.

1. Enamel: This is a thin, strong and shiny white protective coating on the teeth and molars laying around the dentin.

2. Dentine: This is the bone of the tooth. It is a calculated substance that makes that tooth lie beneath the enamel.

3. Pulp: This is the heart of the inner part in a tooth. The inner part includes the nerve fingers, blood vessels and connective tissues. When the pulp dies, bacteria feeds on the decaying matter causing a hallow in the tooth and creating a severe pain.

Causes of a Dead Tooth

There are three (3) commonly known causes of a dead tooth. They includes;

1. A Teeth Trauma or Injury

An injury in the tooth from sports, fight or an accident can block the flow of blood to the tooth and cause the tooth to die.

2. Tooth Decay

A tooth decay begins from the enamel to the dentine then the pulp. As earlier mentioned, if not treated and the pulp dies, bacteria feed on the tooth and harm the nerves and blood vessels causing the tooth to die. Tooth decay begins from the outer layer if the tooth to the deepest layer.

3. Poor oral Hygiene

If you do not take care of your mouth and teeth in general, it can cause a cavity. Cavities if not treated can lead to infections in the pulp which stops the flow of blood to the tooth and makes the tooth to die.

Diagnosis of a Dead Tooth

If you notice a symptom, or you have a tooth injury, it is advisable that you visit your dentist as quick as possible. Your dentist will do a dental checkup and if necessary a dental x-ray. By doing this, the dentist will get to know the location and cause of the death tooth. This helps the dentist to know which treatment you should undergo.

Treatment Recommended for a Dead Tooth

After being diagnosed by your dentist, you would be undergoing any of these treatments;

1. Root Canal

This has to do with the clearing of infection and bacteria in and around the tooth and its root before filling the tooth permanently. This is not done once. You would have to pay frequent visits to your Dentist until it is completed. The benefits of the root canal is that the Dentist gets to save the dead tooth instead if having it removed.

2. Removal of Tooth

If the tooth is seriously damaged and cannot by anyway be restored then this is the only option. Your dentist will remove the tooth completely and might decide right leave it to grow (if it is a milk tooth in children) or replace it with an implant, denture or bridge. Removing the dead tooth helps to prevent infection from spreading to other teeth.


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How Long does a Dead Tooth Stay in the Mouth

An injury on a tooth can begin very severe but a decay begins from mild to worse. This happens when the flow of blood to the tooth has stopped. The tooth dies and can remain there giving you pains and discomfort for as long as you have not treated it. As soon as you resume treatment, you get relief in less than two weeks.

How do you Manage the Pain of a Dead Tooth

Yes! a dead tooth will cause you a lot of pains but there are some home remedy that can help you manage the pain. They include;

  • Take over-the-counter pain relief medicines.
  • Avoid eating hard food.
  • Avoid hot beverage, take cold drinks or use an ice pack instead.

7 Essential ways to Prevent a Dead Tooth

You can actually prevent a dead tooth from ever occuring through the following ways;

1. Practicing proper oral hygiene.

2. Drinking plenty water to wash away particles.

3. Take essentially vitamins and mineral to keep your teeth alive and healthy.

4. Reduce your intake of sugar food or drink which causes cavities and decay.

5. If you engage I sports like boxing or wrestling you from sustaining and injury.

6. Avoid using your teeth for the wrong purpose like opening a drink.

7. Have a routine checkup with your Dentist.


Despite the fact that a teeth is dead it can still function with other teeth but will cause you seriously pains and infection can spread to other teeth. A dead tooth can cause an irritating smell which makes it  necessary for you to get it treated on time. Early treatment can help prevent more complications. It necessary to see your dentist if you suspect your tooth is dying or if you notice and already dead tooth.