The pulp is the innermost portion of your tooth. You have two outer layers that protect this vulnerable part of your tooth from external threats. But impact trauma, decay, oral infections, and other dental concerns could lead to serious problems within the pulp.
Damage or blockage in the blood vessels of the pulp may make the entire tooth non-vital, also known as a dead tooth. This condition itself is not inherently a dental emergency. But it puts the tooth at a greater risk of many oral health issues.
A dentist will confirm a diagnosis of non-vital tooth pulp if you present with any symptoms. This way, they know to monitor this condition. Read on to learn more about diagnosing issues within tooth pulp and what its vitality means for your oral health.
How Does a Dentist Evaluate Tooth Pulp Health?
You might notice symptoms if you have non-vital tooth pulp, including dullness in tooth color or some pain. But many people do not have recognizable issues when they develop this condition. A dentist can spot concerns with the tooth pulp by using x-ray imaging taken once a year.
If they see potential problems with blood vessels in the tooth pulp, the dentist will want to confirm the diagnosis using thermal testing. This will involve applying a cold stimulus to the tooth as well as surrounding areas of the mouth to serve as controlled variables.
They measure the reaction time of feeling the cold sensation as well as the intensity. A slower speed of reaction or a reduced sensation may mean you have non-vital tooth pulp.
This test can be done in a few minutes at your dentist’s office. You may need to schedule a separate appointment for this vitality testing so that your dentist can ensure they have all the necessary equipment on hand.
Do I Need Further Treatment for Non-Vital Tooth Pulp?
Non-vital tooth pulp means that your tooth has a problem with blood flow. But it does not always warrant further treatment after confirming the issue with thermal testing.
However, you could have a higher risk of contracting an infection in the tooth. So your dentist will want to keep a closer eye on its health during your routine exams. Make sure you continue attending these regular dental check-ups to ensure that the tooth as well as the rest of your smile stay healthy.
If the tooth is infected or you feel extreme pain, then you will need urgent dental care. The dentist will need to perform root canal therapy to remove the damaged tooth pulp. This stops the spread of infection while also relieving severe discomfort. The dentist finishes this treatment by fixing a crown atop the tooth to protect it from further harm.
Some people may want to seek cosmetic dental solutions to improve the dull color of a dead tooth. Schedule a consultation with your dentist to learn about aesthetic enhancement options available to you that will not compromise your oral health.