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Can A Dead Tooth Kill You?

Jun 24, 2024Oral health, oral surgery

Can A Dead Tooth Kill You?

No, a dead tooth, also known as a non-vital tooth, is a tooth that has lost its blood supply and nerve function. While a dead tooth itself cannot directly kill you, it can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Without a blood supply, the tooth is more susceptible to bacterial infection and decay, which can spread to the surrounding tissues and potentially lead to abscess formation. If the infection is not treated promptly, it can spread to other parts of the body and cause systemic complications that could be life-threatening. Therefore, it is important to seek dental treatment if you suspect you have a dead tooth to prevent any potential complications.


What are the signs of a dead tooth?

When a tooth stops receiving blood flow, it becomes what is known as a dead tooth. Discoloration is a common early symptom of this problem for many people. Furthermore, individuals may also experience pain in the affected tooth or gums.

The color of your teeth is typically white when they are healthy, but it can change based on what you eat and how well you take care of them. Consuming coffee, blueberries, or smoking can lead to discoloration of the teeth, resulting in a slight off-white or pale yellow appearance. This discoloration is usually consistent across all of your teeth.

A dying tooth may appear discolored compared to the surrounding teeth. This could appear in various colors such as yellow, light brown, gray, or black. The discolored tooth may show a bruise-like appearance, with the color becoming more pronounced as decay advances and the nerve weakens.

Discomfort may serve as a possible indicator. While some individuals may not experience discomfort at all, others may experience slight discomfort, and a few may experience extreme discomfort. Discomfort is often caused by nerve damage or infection. In addition, signs of infection may include:

  • bad breath
  • bad taste in your mouth
  • swelling around your gum line

It is recommended to promptly schedule an appointment with a dentist to address any signs of a decaying tooth.


Can a tooth infection kill you?

A tooth infection is the result of bacteria entering the pulp, which is a soft tissue inside the tooth. In cases of worsening infection, a dental abscess may develop as a collection of pus near the tooth.

During the 1600s in London, dental infections were a significant cause of death, ranking as the fifth or sixth highest cause. The mortality rate from dental infections was surprisingly high, ranging from 10 to 40 percent as late as 1908.

With the progress made in medical and dental care, the occurrence of death caused by a tooth infection has significantly decreased. It is important to seek treatment promptly if you suspect you have an infected tooth.

Failure to address a tooth infection can result in the infection spreading to different parts of the body, causing severe complications that could be fatal if not treated promptly. Some of these complications include:

  • sepsis: An intense bodily response caused by an infection.
  • Ludwig’s angina: An intense bacterial infection that impacts the lower part of the mouth, right below the tongue.
  • necrotizing fasciitis: A life-threatening infection that causes the decay of soft tissues in the body
  • mediastinitis: Mediastinitis is the medical term for inflammation in the area between the lungs in the chest.
  • endocarditis: Endocarditis is an inflammatory condition of the inner lining of the heart, known as the endocardium.
  • cavernous sinus thrombosis: A blockage of blood in the sinus cavities near the brain and eyes can be life-threatening.
  • osteomyelitis: A bone tissue infection occurs in the body.
  • brain abscess: A brain abscess is a collection of pus that can form in the brain.


What Causes a Tooth to Die?

A tooth can become non-vital due to two main causes. One cause of dental issues is decay, which can occur when untreated tooth decay reaches the pulp of the tooth and affects the blood vessels and nerve tissue. The resulting infection from decay can lead to inflammation, restricting blood flow to the tooth, and causing it to die.

Damage or trauma are often responsible for a tooth becoming dead or dying. In situations where one has experienced an injury or been in an accident resulting in harm to a tooth, this can affect the blood circulation to that particular tooth. If the injured tooth does not receive enough blood supply, it may eventually die.


Treatment for a dead tooth

Ignoring any remaining sensation in a tooth is risky, as an untreated issue can lead to complications. After a nerve dies, the cavity becomes filled with dead tissue, creating a suitable environment for infections to thrive. If a dead tooth becomes infected, it can cause excruciating pain in a tooth that previously felt nothing.

When facing dental problems, the main treatment options are either a root canal or tooth extraction. Dentists recommend the most suitable treatment based on each individual case. Tooth extraction is often necessary when a tooth is no longer salvageable due extensive decay. Replacing an extracted tooth with a dental implant is a recommended option to help preserve bone tissue.

In cases where a tooth is healthy except for nerve damage, extracting it would not be a reasonable decision. Root canals can be a beneficial option in these cases.

It is important to not overlook any signs of a dead tooth. It is recommended to schedule a dental appointment promptly. Even if you’re uncertain about the status of the tooth, it’s best to consult with your dentist. Failure to address a dead tooth can result in serious consequences for your oral health.

It is recommended to schedule a visit to your dentist soon to prevent further damage. Detecting dental issues early can help save the affected tooth.

Contact Our Redlands Dental Office!!

We invite you to visit our Redlands dental clinic. Our skilled professionals provide high-quality care and services. We are excited to meet you and help with all of your dental needs!

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