If your tooth is no longer experiencing any blood flow, it can be considered "dead." While this may sound strange, it's actually a relatively common scenario. Learn more about the condition and how a dentist can help below.


A dead tooth is caused by dead or dying nerves within the pulp. When a tooth has no blood flow, it can cause an infection that kills the nerves and makes your tooth die.

It can be hard to determine if you have a dead tooth, but one of the main symptoms is discoloration. The tooth may change shade, turning yellow, light brown, gray, or sometimes black. Some patients also feel pain ranging from mild to severe. You may even notice a bad taste in your mouth, swelling, or bad breath. If you have these symptoms, contact a dentist immediately.



There are two primary causes of dead teeth: injury and decay. If your tooth is injured, such as by hitting it during a fall or while playing sports, the impact can cause it to die. This sometimes happens within a matter of days, but it can also take years to fully affect the tooth.

Decay might also be the culprit. When a person has poor dental hygiene, this can lead to cavities. If they're untreated, the resulting decay can destroy your tooth by eating away at the enamel and then moving to the pulp. When the pulp becomes infected, it can halt blood flow to the tooth.

Treatment Options

In some circumstances, a dentist might be able to save your tooth with a root canal. During this procedure, the pulp is removed to stop the infection. Afterward, a crown is often placed on the tooth to strengthen it. If this option is available, your dentist will probably recommend it, as it's best to save teeth whenever possible.

However, in some cases, your dental professional will recommend extraction. After the procedure, you can opt to have the tooth replaced with dentures, an implant, or a bridge. Talk to your dentist about the best option for your smile and budget.


If you suspect you have a dead tooth, or simply want to keep up with your dental hygiene, the dentists at Dansville Family Dental Care can help. Dr. Rosemeire Santos-Teachout, DDS, MS, and her team have been serving the community surrounding Livingston County, NY, for nearly two decades. They offer a wide range of services, including extraction, implants, Invisalign®, and more. Visit their website to learn more about their offerings, or call (585) 335-6170 to schedule an appointment.