After a routine dental examination, your dentist might notice nerve damage on your dental x-ray. This could signify non-vital tooth pulp, also known as a dead tooth. Though not inherently a dental emergency, this condition could heighten your risk for oral infections and other dental concerns.
To confirm a diagnosis, your dentist will want to perform a test evaluating the health of your tooth pulp. Dr. Sahil Goyal, a dentist serving patients in Laurel, MD, explains how dental professionals perform this test and what the results mean for your smile.
Why Does My Dentist Want to Test My Tooth Pulp?
Your dentist will likely recommend tooth pulp vitality testing after noticing potential nerve damage on a routine dental x-ray. They will want to confirm that the tooth pulp is non-vital by performing a test on the affected tooth.
A dead tooth itself is not a dental emergency. But it could be at risk of an infection that would require prompt dental intervention. Non-vital tooth pulp is not reversible, but your dental professional can treat the problem if needed. The dentist will need to monitor the tooth going forward to protect your oral health.
How Will My Dentist Evaluate Tooth Pulp Vitality?
Dentists commonly evaluate tooth pulp vitality using thermal testing. This involves applying a cold stimulus to the affected tooth as well as surrounding areas of the mouth as controlled variables.
The dentist will note the speed of your reaction to the stimulus and the intensity of the sensation on the tooth compared to other spots of your mouth. A slower reaction with less feeling in the tooth could signify non-vital tooth pulp. In order for your dentist to have the appropriate tools on hand, you will need to schedule a separate appointment for this test.
Will I Need Further Dental Treatment for This Issue?
If your dentist determines that you have non-vital tooth pulp, your dentist may not need to complete further dental work. They may just keep a close eye on its health during future routine appointments. Some patients might desire cosmetic dental work to brighten tooth discoloration that might develop in a dead tooth.
However, if the patient is in pain or the tooth is infected, the tooth may require emergency dental treatment. The dentist may need to do root canal therapy to get rid of the infection and then complete treatment with a dental crown over the tooth.
Ask Your Laurel, MD Dentist About Preventative Dentistry
Laurel Smiles Dental Care offers both preventative and emergency dental care to patients of all ages. Dr. Goyal is a highly skilled dentist in Laurel, MD who specializes in general, implant, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry, including Invisalign and other orthodontic solutions. If you feel nervous about upcoming dental work, ask your dentist about sedation dentistry options. To schedule a consultation with us, contact our office online or reach a member of our staff by phone at 301.200.1315.