A dead tooth may have noticeable symptoms, such as a darkening in color or pain. Sometimes your dentist notices risks of non-vital tooth pulp and will want to perform a test to evaluate its health. This process is called tooth vitality testing.
If your dentist recommends this test, you may feel nervous about what this means for the wellbeing of your smile. Dr. Brenda Paulen, a dentist practicing in Sandy Springs, GA, describes tooth vitality testing and how this process helps your oral health.
Why Do I Need a Tooth Vitality Test?
A dead tooth, or a tooth with no access to blood flow, can occur for a number of reasons, including impact trauma or advanced tooth decay. If the pulp becomes damaged or suffers from restricted blood flow, the tooth could be at risk of infection.
Though some patients with a non-vital tooth show symptoms such as tooth pain or discoloration, other patients may not notice any concerns at all. Your dentist may see signs of this damage on an x-ray and seek a more thorough diagnosis with a tooth vitality test. They can determine your oral health risk and potential treatment after performing this testing.
What Can I Expect from This Test?
Your dentist may recognize potential vitality concerns during a routine dental exam, but they will likely ask you to return for a separate appointment to receive this test so that they can organize the appropriate materials. Your dentist will most commonly use thermal testing to evaluate the health of the tooth pulp.
The dentist will apply a cold stimulus to different areas of the mouth, including the affected tooth. They will check the speed and intensity of the patient’s response. Slower reactions or reduced sensations in the problem tooth could signify non-vital pulp.
How Will My Dentist Treat a Dead Tooth?
The restricted blood flow of a dead tooth does not always require treatment from your dentist. If the patient notices discoloration, they may seek cosmetic enhancement to brighten their smile.
However, patients with tooth pain or an infection in the pulp might need root canal therapy to clean and preserve the tooth. Your dentist will let you know your treatment options after evaluating the test results.
Schedule an Exam with Your Dentist in Sandy Springs, GA
Proud Smiles provides dental cleanings and other preventative and general dental care. Dr. Paulen is a highly qualified dentist in Sandy Springs, GA specializing in implant, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry, including professional teeth whitening services. To schedule a consultation with our practice, contact our staff online or reach us by phone at 404.418.7734.