If you’re feeling numbness in your teeth or gums, don’t ignore it. In fact, you should see a dentist sooner rather than later. While your foot may “go to sleep” or feel numb after sitting on it for too long, numbness in your mouth is never normal. You may not realize it, but your teeth are alive. Just like other parts of your body, they contain nerves and blood vessels that keep them healthy. A loss of feeling or sensation in your gums or teeth is an indication that the tooth is no longer vital.
How does a tooth die?
The two most common culprits to tooth death are decay and trauma. If a cavity goes untreated, the inner portion of the tooth becomes damaged. This occurs when the enamel and dentin break down and the harmful bacteria reaches the tooth nerves. Most patients experience notable pain and sensitivity at this stage. However, if you continue to ignore the painful tooth, the tooth nerves will eventually be cut off from its nutrients and the tooth will die. When the tooth nerves are dead, the tooth also becomes numb.
Injury is another reason why a tooth dies. If a tooth suffers a traumatic hit, which could from a hard fall or biting down on ice, the blood flow to the tooth could be instantly injured and cut off. This leads to tooth numbness and tooth death. If you play contact sports, this is a primary reason to wear a protective mouthguard.
Can a dying tooth be revived?
Yes! There are ways to treat a non-vital tooth, but time is of the essence. A root canal can save a dying tooth by eliminating the infected pulp and filling the inner tooth chambers to prevent further infection. The focus will be on not only restoring the tooth but also preventing the spread of decay and infection to neighboring teeth and surrounding gums.
Not all teeth can be saved. It may be necessary to extract the dead tooth, especially if it has lost blood flow and vital nutrients for a long period of time. You may even notice that the tooth has discolored or darkened at this point. By removing the dead tooth, the health of your existing teeth can be preserved. However, you’ll need to consider teeth replacement to prevent shifting teeth and bone loss. A dental implant can do the job!
Prevention is best
At Park South Dentistry, we educate patients on ways to care for their teeth so that tooth numbness and tooth death never occur. We provide preventive dental maintenance as well as custom athletic mouthguards to protect your smile from decay and injury.