Your teeth contain living tissue in their pulp, and if the tissue sustains damage, you could end up with a dead tooth. Though this dental concern often has noticeable symptoms, your dentist may want to test the tooth’s vitality for a firm diagnosis of the issue.
If your dentist recommends this test to you, you may worry about the process and what it means for your oral health. To alleviate any dental fear, Dr. Lynn Morgan, a dentist practicing in Severna Park, MD, responds to frequently asked questions regarding tooth vitality and its testing procedure.
Why Do I Need a Tooth Vitality Test?
A dead tooth refers to a tooth that has a restricted or limited blood flow. This issue may occur for a variety of reasons, including impact trauma and advanced tooth decay. But if the center of the tooth, the pulp, does not receive adequate blood flow, it could be at risk of infection.
Though some patients with a non-vital tooth show visible symptoms, including discoloration or pain, others might only be noticeable during an examination from a dental professional. They may see damage on an x-ray image of your teeth during a routine exam.
This is why attending regular dental cleanings and evaluations are crucial to your oral health. If your dentist suspects blood flow restriction in your tooth, they may recommend tooth vitality testing.
What Happens During This Test?
If your dentist recommends a tooth vitality test, you will likely have to return to your dentist’s office during a separate session so that they can organize the appropriate tools. The most common way a dentist tests a tooth pulp’s vitality is through thermal testing.
This involves a cold stimulus that a dentist applies to different spots in the patient’s mouth, including the tooth in question as well as several other teeth used as controls. The dentist will monitor the speed and intensity of the patient’s reaction to the stimulus. Slower reactions or muted sensations may suggest that the tooth pulp is non-vital.
How Will My Dentist Treat a Dead Tooth?
A dead tooth may not necessarily require treatment from your dentist if it does not show signs of internal structural damage. Some patients may ask for cosmetic enhancement treatments to brighten a discolored tooth.
If the patient experiences tooth pain or infection of the pulp, your dentist might need to use root canal therapy to clean the interior of the tooth and get rid of the infection before it causes further harm. A crown will complete this treatment, enhancing the tooth’s appearance and protecting it from future damage.
Get an Oral Health Exam from a Dentist in Severna Park, MD
Dr. Morgan is a highly qualified dentist in Severna Park, MD who offers both preventative and emergency dental services. Our practice specializes in general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry, including tooth replacement solutions, for patients of all ages. To schedule a consultation with us, contact our staff online or reach us by phone at 410.415.9015.