Numbness in your teeth or gums is a serious dental issue that needs to be evaluated and treated immediately to ensure a positive outcome. Your teeth are alive, with blood vessels and nerves, just like any other body part. If your tooth is numb, this is a sign that the tooth may be beginning to die, and quick action is needed to ensure that it will not fall out.
What causes a tooth to die?
Tooth death has two main causes: dental trauma and tooth decay. When an injury occurs to the tooth, the blood vessels may become damaged, cutting off the blood flow. This can occur from a fall or oral trauma, biting into something unusually hard such as a popcorn kernel, or from grinding your teeth. If you participate in sports or other athletic activities, it is very important to wear a mouth guard in order to protect your teeth from this type of dental trauma.
When tooth decay is not treated, it will eventually begin to penetrate into the dentin that makes up the interior of your tooth. Usually this process can be painful, but not always. If the decay is not corrected, your tooth will eventually lose access to the nutrients and blood flow it usually receives from the dentin, and as a result the tooth is numb. Eventually the tooth will die.
Can a dying tooth be treated?
It is possible to save a tooth, even if the tooth is numb. In fact, treatment is vital to ensure that the bacteria that has caused tooth decay has not spread into the gums, bone, and surrounding teeth. In most cases, a tooth that has become numb will be treated with a root canal. The dead tooth pulp and any infected tooth matter will be removed from the interior of tooth. The resulting space will then be filled and sealed in order to prevent any further infection.
Unfortunately, a root canal isn’t always possible. In these cases, the tooth will need to be extracted. Once removed, the tooth will be replaced using a dental implant, or in the case of multiple teeth, a fixed dental bridge or removable denture may be used. This fills the resulting gap following the tooth extraction and prevents your remaining teeth from shifting. It also helps to prevent bone and gum loss following the tooth extraction.
Can tooth death be prevented?
In most cases tooth death is completely preventable. Always wear the proper safety equipment and an athletic mouth guard when participating in sports or any other activity where the mouth may suffer injury or trauma. It is also important that you maintain a proper dental hygiene regimen. Brush twice a day using a soft bristled toothbrush that carries the American Dental Association seal of approval, and use a gentle, circular, massaging motion to remove the plaque and food debris. You should also floss at least once per day to remove the food debris and plaque in areas where brushing can’t reach.