A non-vital, or what some people may refer to as a “dead”, front tooth can stand out as an eyesore and may even signal a dangerous dental infection. If you have a tooth that you suspect is non-vital, then you should get it looked at right away.
The sooner you schedule a consultation for a suspicious-looking tooth, the sooner you can get treatment that will save your smile.
What Makes a Tooth become ‘Non-Vital” and darken?
Teeth are living parts of your body. They have hollow pulp chambers on the inside that are filled with nerves and blood vessels. If the pulp chamber in a tooth is damaged by disease or trauma, it can trigger an infection in the nerve of the tooth. As the infection progresses, the nerve dies, and the pulp chamber darkens which leaves a bruise-like stain that shows through the tooth.
A disruption in tooth vitality can be caused by things like an untreated cavity, a dental abscess, or a sports injury that happened decades earlier.
Whether you can recall what may have caused you to have a non-vital front tooth or not, the next important step is to get it treated.
Signs of a Non-Vital Front Tooth
Non-vital teeth can present with any of the following symptoms:
- Gray, brown, or black discoloration in part or all of the tooth
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in the mouth
Pain and discoloration are the two main symptoms that your tooth may become non-vital. A tooth can go through this process slowly or suddenly, and the resulting discoloration and discomfort can likewise come on at a similar pace. It is, however, possible for a tooth to become non-vital without causing you any pain. This is why you should always discuss changes in tooth color with your dentist even if the tooth doesn’t hurt.
What are your options to treat the tooth and prevent it from falling out? Your tooth may qualify for one or more of the following procedures.
A root canal is a procedure in which the dentist removes the infected and inflamed nerve. The pulp chamber and root are cleaned out and filled with a material that seals out bacteria. This process relieves your tooth of pain and prevents the infection from spreading to your gums and other teeth in your mouth.
Your treatment doesn’t just end with a root canal, however. You’ll need some more help in restoring your tooth’s strength and natural color.
Most teeth whitening systems work by removing stains that settle into tooth enamel from the outside of your tooth. This doesn’t work for deteriorating teeth that are stained from the inside. Your tooth may respond well to an internal bleaching procedure that only dentists can provide. Internal bleaching lightens stains on non-vital teeth from the innermost layers.
The non-vital teeth whitening procedure:
In order to achieve satisfactory colour results for non-vital teeth, it can be necessary to bleach them from the inside out. Following a radiography examination, the dentist will place the whitening gel either in a tray or inside the back of the tooth. Many patients see the results of non-vital teeth whitening in a few days but achieving satisfactory results depends on a number of factors and more time may be required and more than one application. If the gel is placed within the tooth the access cavity will need to be sealed with a small composite filling on completion.
Non-vital teeth are often very weak as a result of an injury or cavity. They become even more brittle after a root canal procedure. It’s very likely that your tooth will need a dental crown.
Crowns serve two purposes. First of all, they strengthen and protect weak teeth. Secondly, they completely cover up dark stains in tooth enamel that don’t come out with professional teeth bleaching procedures.
Your dental crown will be made from a beautiful ceramic material to imitate the color and texture of natural teeth. With a dental “cap” on your non-vital front tooth, you can smile with confidence again.