Dead Tooth

By | June 10, 2022

Toothache that suddenly stops? Tooth discoloration, no cold stimulus, but bite sensitivity? Typical signs that speak for a dead tooth. It is important that the dead tooth is not ignored, but treated by a dentist. This is the only way to save him from extraction.

What is a dead tooth

If the dentist finds holes in the tooth that are too deep and caries is very advanced, there are hardly any options to actively ensure that the tooth stays alive. The tooth Рor rather the pulp Рdies as a result. The pulp is a bundle of blood vessels and nerves that supplies the tooth. For slang aiha, please visit

A dead tooth does not have to fall out on the spot; sometimes it can go unnoticed for a long time. On the one hand, because a tooth that has no nerve does not cause any problems and, on the other hand, because the tooth enamel remains stable even when there is no blood supply.

However, the tooth discolours ; over time it becomes dark. Sometimes the person concerned complains about sensitivity to the bite and a constant breaking off of tooth substance. In the worst case, there is swelling and severe pain.


As a rule, inflammation of the pulp, known as pulpitis, is responsible for the death of the tissue. Pulpitis occurs when pathogens – due to the deep cavities caused by tooth decay – reach the nerve of the tooth. Pulpitis causes extreme pain, but on the other hand it can also progress without symptoms.

If there is inflammation of the dental nerve, this subsequently destroys the entire pulp. If the person concerned complains of severe toothache, which stops by itself after a few days, spontaneous healing has not occurred and the tooth nerve has died. Acute pulpitis has progressed to chronic pulpitis. For this reason, it is important to see a dentist in good time. In rare cases, there is direct damage to the pulp. Occasionally, accidents that knock out or break the tooth can cause direct damage to the pulp.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A dead tooth does not necessarily have to cause pain. A typical sign that it is already a dead tooth is the insensitivity to cold. Visually, the affected person notices a dark discoloration. Sometimes there is also severe toothache; If the toothache subsides after a few days and disappears, so that there is suddenly no pain, the tooth has died.

Diagnosis & course of disease

Before the treatment, the doctor will check whether the tooth is alive or dead. He sprays a cotton ball with the cold spray, which he then puts on the tooth. Sometimes a short blast of air from a water-air gun is enough to find out for sure whether the tooth has died or not.

If the patient perceives the cold stimulus, it is a positive vitality test – the tooth is alive. If the vitality test is negative, the dentist must assume that the tooth has already died. However, further examinations must be carried out in this regard, since fillings or crowns can impair the vitality test.

The doctor can also use percussion testing to test whether the tooth has already died or not. If the patient reacts to a knock that occurs directly on the tooth, there is an inflammation in the jawbone. The doctor speaks of root tip inflammation.

The patient usually suffers from jaw pain ; the dead tooth does not cause pain. If in doubt, the dentist can have an X-ray made. In the picture, the doctor can see a circular change that has occurred directly at the root tip and suggests that root tip inflammation has occurred.

The dead pulp is of course the perfect breeding ground for countless bacteria. These come directly from the oral cavity and can easily migrate into the tooth. The bacteria also have it even easier if tooth decay has already formed. Due to the fact that bacteria enter, the dead tissue begins to rot.

Aggressive inflammation, so-called gangrene, develops, which is primarily noticeable through an extremely foul smell. The pathogens, which can reside in the entire jaw, cause secondary inflammation that is not harmless. If the inflammation breaks through, i.e. it affects the surrounding tissue next to the root tip, an abscess occurs. A circumstance that can be recognized immediately by the “fat cheek”.


A dead tooth does not necessarily need to be extracted, but if left untreated it can become a problem because bacteria from the mouth can invade the dead pulp and cause the tissue to rot and cause inflammation. It can usually be recognized by a foul smell from the mouth.

The tooth often starts to throb and becomes very sensitive to pressure because the pressure cannot escape due to the decay gases. It is dangerous if the inflammation is not treated properly because it can spread through the root tip to the entire jaw. When pus flows into the adjacent tissue, it results in swollen cheeks, as the saying goes.

The bacteria can get into the bloodstream via the jaw and cause health problems in other parts of the body, including heart muscle inflammation, which at first glance would not be associated with the dead tooth. The tricky thing is that dead teeth don’t always cause pain.

They often simply die off and the bacteria can multiply unhindered over a longer period of time without the affected person noticing. It is therefore important to treat such a dead tooth at an early stage so that it does not become a source of bacteria.

When should you go to the doctor?

A dead tooth behaves like any other dead tissue in the body over the long term. Therefore, the dentist should be consulted at an early stage , who will remove dangerous parts of the tooth and try to preserve it as far as possible and make it look like a healthy tooth with suitable dentures. The person concerned will probably not notice at first that a tooth has died. Only over time will pain and then visual changes to the tooth appear. Since these are characteristic signs of dead teeth, now is the right time to see a doctor.

The family doctor can help with acute pain at short notice with painkillers if the first symptoms appear on weekends or public holidays. However, even then it makes more sense to get treatment in a dental emergency practice at short notice, since painkillers alone will not solve the problem of the dead tooth.

If the dentist were not visited, the tooth would continue to deteriorate even if dental care continued as usual. The person concerned would no longer be able to prevent bacteria from spreading to other surrounding teeth and starting to destroy their enamel if this had not already happened. Immediate visit to the dentist is also important to protect teeth that are still healthy.

Treatment & Therapy

A dead tooth needs to be treated by a dentist. If the dead tooth is ignored, chronic inflammation will follow. In the end, the doctor can only remove the tooth. If the patient reacts in time, the dentist can try to somehow save the tooth.

He does a root canal treatment. The root canal is cleaned and then sealed with a filling. However, if the dentist can no longer save the tooth because it is already too brittle, far too loose or permanently infected, he can only remove it. An extraction follows. The resulting tooth gap can then be closed with a bridge, a removable denture or an implant.


A dead tooth can definitely be prevented. Regular dental care, oral hygiene and check-ups at the dentist – all factors that prevent tooth decay from forming. Anyone suffering from toothache should see a dentist as soon as possible; sometimes one filling is enough to prevent further problems.


After the treatment of a dead tooth, aftercare is of great importance. Regular visits to the dentist are necessary because possible infections can be detected and treated early after the removal of a tooth. If the dead tooth is preserved, it must be checked regularly, as in the long term problems and loss of function are more likely to occur than with healthy teeth.

In principle, the person concerned should have regular professional tooth cleaning carried out. It is best for the dentist to decide how often these cleanings should be carried out. In addition, the patient should pay attention to regular and thorough cleaning of the teeth. This includes brushing your teeth with toothpaste and a toothbrush after meals, and using cleansing mouthwash and dental floss.

These measures are also a general prevention against caries and the associated damage to the teeth. If the dead tooth is preserved, it can still cause pain. The tooth itself is dead, but it is still surrounded by nerves that can give off a pain signal when pressed hard. In this case, the patient should see a dentist as soon as possible.

You can do that yourself

In the case of a dead tooth, cooperation with a doctor is very important. Otherwise, complications and the development of secondary diseases can occur in everyday life. Dental hygiene should never be neglected just because the tooth has died. Rather, it must be optimized and adapted to the needs of the organism.

The dead tooth should be taken into account when cleaning the mouth, tongue and teeth, if possible after each meal. It must not be left out when teeth are cleaned several times a day, otherwise bacteria or other germs will form. These can multiply and spread within a short period of time. The affected person should therefore use dental floss, mouthwash or other care products in addition to toothpaste in everyday life.

Depending on the cause of the dead tooth, there is also a risk of the disease spreading or developing again without medical care. If possible, rescue of the tooth should be initiated or a denture is required. These processes cannot be carried out independently.

To strengthen the organism, it needs a healthy immune system. In order to cope better with the treatment and to promote the healing process, it is therefore important to ensure that the body’s defense system is sufficiently developed at an early stage. When eating, the food should not be too hard to avoid tooth chipping.

Dead Tooth