How Long Can a Dead Tooth Stay in Your Mouth?

How Long Can a Dead Tooth Stay in Your Mouth

Strange but true, the human tooth is a living tissue capable of dying. Each tooth comprises three basic layers: the outer enamel, dentin, and the innermost pulp. The pulp comprises nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues. The top visible portion of the tooth is a crown. The base of the tooth embedded into the jawbone is its roots. What marks the death of the tooth is the damage to the tooth’s pulp. Read on our latest blog to know more on dental implant expert insights on how long can a dead tooth stay in your mouth?

What is a Dead Tooth?

A dead tooth, also called a non-vital tooth, is a tooth that is no longer receiving fresh blood supply. The disrupted blood supply leads to an infection which over time causes nerve damage. Thus, a dead tooth is also known by the name “necrotic pulp”.

Primary Causes of a Bad Tooth

  • Tooth infection- Bacteria inside the mouth can infect the tooth in several ways. Poor oral hygiene can cause tooth decay or cavities. Severe decay can infect the tooth pulp. Bacteria can even infect a cracked tooth or tooth with a cracked filling. If the gum disease progresses to the tooth’s root, the tooth gets infected and eventually dies.
  • Tooth injury/trauma- Tooth injury can take place while playing sports or due to an accident. Physical trauma to the tooth can damage the blood vessels inside the tooth, resulting in its death. The time taken for the tooth to die depends upon the severity of the injury or infection caused to the tooth. Death may occur in a few days to several months or even years.

Indicators of a Dead Tooth in Your Mouth

It’s not necessary that a dying or dead tooth gets immediately noticed. Sometimes, it may not even hurt. However, it may cause intense pain in the gums or toothache in some people. The pain is felt because of the damage or decay of the pulp which exposes the nerves.

The most obvious sign of a dead tooth is discoloration. A living tooth is usually of white shade but it can have stains or may become yellow. In contrast, a dead tooth is of a darker shade usually red, blue, gray, or black.

Other symptoms signaling the death of a tooth include:

  • Chronic bad breath
  • A foul-smelling mouth
  • Swelling around the gum line
  • An abscess formed close to the roots of the discolored tooth.

Those who experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms must soon consult a dentist. A dentist can confirm the presence of a dead tooth.  

How Long Can a Dead Tooth Stay in your Mouth?

A dead tooth can remain inside the mouth for several days, weeks, months, or even years.  The exact time depends upon the extent of the damage. However, keeping a dead tooth for a long time can have a major impact on oral health. It may make the mouth vulnerable to several complications such as:

  • Jaw issues
  • Tooth pain and discomfort
  • The infection spreads to other teeth and gums
  • Marred appearance because of discoloration.

Can a Bad Tooth Eventually Fall on its Own?

A dead tooth can only fall on its own when there is jawbone loss. Loss of jawbone means exposure of the tooth roots. As the tooth base is no longer anchored strongly to the jawbone, the tooth gets loose and finally falls out. Waiting for this to happen is not a good idea. A dead tooth must be timely treated. Otherwise, a dead tooth can quickly cause serious issues that could be even life-threatening.

How Long Can a Dead Tooth Stay in Your Mouth

How to Treat a Dead Tooth?

A dead tooth cannot heal on its own. Its treatment is necessary. The treatment options depend upon the severity of the decay or damage. The two main treatment courses usually recommended by dental professionals in Chicago at First Point Dental are:

  • Root canal therapy in Chicago- It is an endodontic procedure performed by root canal specialists or endodontists. It is recommended to help save the dead adult tooth. It works if the remaining teeth and the surrounding jawbone are healthy. During this treatment, the endodontist first drills a hole in the dead tooth to remove the damaged pulp. Once done, the dentist thoroughly disinfects the empty root canal. Lastly, the dentist seals the roots and places a dental filling. For added protection, the dentist may place a cap/crown over the treated tooth.
  • Tooth extraction in Chicago If the damage or decay of the tooth pulp is beyond repair, the dentist recommends tooth extraction. The dentist performs a simple extraction if the dead tooth is loose and easily accessible. If not, the dentist carries out a surgical extraction which typically involves making an incision at the tooth’s connective tissues. Following the tooth extraction, a bridge, denture, or dental implant is used to replace the missing tooth.  

How to Prevent Dead Teeth?

Some tips to prevent severe damage or decay of the tooth are:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene– This includes brushing teeth twice daily and doing at least once time flossing. Such oral hygiene practices can help keep the teeth and gums clean and avoid the risk of cavities.  
  • Commit to a healthy lifestyle- Dentists always recommend having a well-balanced diet to prevent any oral health issues. Having a sugar-loaded diet can make tooth decay more likely. Other than diet, it is important to regularly exercise. Exercise can help promote blood circulation. If playing any contact sports, it’s recommended to use mouthguards to protect the tooth from dental trauma.   
  • Go for regular dental check-ups- It’s important to visit dentists for check-ups at least twice a year. A dentist can identify or early spot any dental problem before it worsens. Also, a dentist can provide better guidance to keep teeth healthy and alive.
How to Treat a Dead Tooth

Schedule a Consultation

If you have a dead tooth in your mouth you can retain them as long as you can endure pain and infection. But, that’s not the right thing to do. Upon noticing a dead tooth, you must promptly contact First Point Dental, dental experts in Chicago.

First Point Dental has the best endodontists, restorative dentists, emergency dentists, dental hygienists, and more. These dental professionals can tell you more on how long a dead tooth stays in your mouth and its treatment option. They are highly experienced and offer comprehensive care. They provide budget-friendly dental services that can help you enjoy better oral health. Pay a visit today to know more!