The Truth About Dead Teeth: How Long Can They Really Stay in Your Mouth?

The Truth About Dead Teeth: How Long Can They Really Stay in Your Mouth?

Feb 23, 2024

In Westminster, CO, maintaining excellent oral health is a priority for many residents. A concern that often arises in dental discussions is the fate of “dead” teeth – teeth that have lost their vitality due to decay, trauma, or disease. Understanding the implications of keeping a dead tooth in your mouth is crucial for making informed decisions about your oral health. At Fox Creek Family Dental by Espire – Westminster, our commitment is to provide comprehensive care and education on such matters. This blog will delve into what dead teeth are, the risks they pose, and the treatment options available.

What is a Dead Tooth?

A dead tooth, also known as a non-vital or necrotic tooth, is one that no longer receives any blood flow. This condition can result from severe tooth decay, injury, or gum disease. Without blood flow, the tooth’s nerves and tissues inside the pulp chamber die, leading to discoloration and sometimes pain. Recognizing the signs of a dead tooth is the first step toward treatment.

The Risks of Keeping a Dead Tooth:

  • Infection and Abscess:

The most critical danger of retaining a deceased tooth is the risk of infection. Bacteria may infiltrate the tooth, leading to abscess development, which is a distressing ailment causing swelling, an unpleasant taste, and potentially more severe health issues if the infection disseminates.

  • Pain and Discomfort:

While a dead tooth might be painless initially, if it becomes infected, it can cause significant discomfort and pain. This can impact your daily life, making eating, drinking, and even speaking challenging.

  • Further Decay and Damage:

A dead tooth can become brittle over time, leading to cracks and breakage. This can affect not just the dead tooth but also surrounding teeth and gums, leading to further dental issues.

  • Cosmetic Concerns:

Dead teeth often discolor, turning yellow, gray, or black. This can lead to cosmetic concerns, affecting your confidence and smile.

Treatment Options:

  • Tooth Extraction:

Removing the dead tooth is a common solution. Extraction prevents the spread of infection and eliminates the source of pain. After extraction, there are several options for replacing the tooth, such as implants or bridges, ensuring your smile remains complete and functional.

  • Root Canal Therapy:

Opting for a root canal can be an alternative to extraction, especially if the tooth’s structure remains sound. This method entails eradicating the dead pulp, sterilizing the tooth’s interior, and then sealing it to avert additional infection. A crown is often placed on the tooth afterward for both protection and aesthetic purposes.

  • Antibiotics:

If infection is present, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to manage it before proceeding with other treatments. This is often a temporary solution to alleviate immediate discomfort and health risks before more definitive treatment.

Maintaining Oral Health Post-Treatment:

Whether you’ve had a tooth extracted or treated with a root canal, maintaining oral health is essential. Here are some steps to ensure long-term health and prevent future issues:

  • Regular Dental Check-ups:

Visit your dentist near you regularly for check-ups and cleanings. These visits are crucial for detecting and addressing any new issues early.

  • Good Oral Hygiene:

For a healthy oral environment and to minimize the chances of infection and cavities, brushing teeth at least two times a day, consistent flossing, and regular use of mouthwash are essential practices.

  • Healthy Diet:

It’s advisable to reduce intake of sugary and acidic items that could lead to dental decay. Consuming a well-rounded diet is beneficial for your overall health, encompassing the health of your teeth and gums.

  • Avoiding Harmful Habits:

Smoking, nail-gnawing, and involving your teeth as instruments can lead to damage and decay. Avoiding these habits can protect your teeth and the rest of your mouth.


The issue of dead teeth is significant and should not be taken lightly. Being aware of the risks and available treatment options empowers you to make educated choices regarding your dental care. At Fox Creek Family Dental by Espire – Westminster, we are committed to equipping our patients with the necessary knowledge and treatments for sustaining a healthy, attractive smile. Taking the initiative in dental care can avert future pain and eliminate the requirement for more elaborate dental procedures. By prioritizing your dental hygiene, you can maintain its enduring quality and health.

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