Have you noticed dullness, other discoloration, or even pain forming in your tooth? This could happen if you have non-vital tooth pulp. Also known as a dead tooth, this dental scenario occurs when blood flow becomes restricted to the tooth.
This is not necessarily a dental emergency on its own, but your dentist will want to monitor this condition to reduce the risk of other dental problems. If they suspect you have a dead tooth, a dentist will want to complete tooth vitality testing to confirm the diagnosis. Read on to learn more about tooth pulp vitality and what it means for your overall oral health.
Why Do I Need a Tooth Vitality Test?
If you have a non-vital tooth, you might notice the tooth becomes dark in color and feels painful. But many people do not experience any symptoms if their tooth pulp no longer receives an adequate amount of blood.
But your dentist might notice this problem during a routine dental x-ray. If they see signs of blood flow restriction in a tooth, the dentist will want to order a tooth vitality test to confirm it. Then once they receive the results, they will know what further actions will or will not be needed.
How Will My Dentist Test Tooth Pulp Vitality?
A dentist will usually use thermal testing to check the health and vitality of a patient’s tooth pulp. They do this test by applying a cold stimulus to the affected tooth as well as other areas of the mouth as controlled variables.
The dentist checks the patient’s reaction time to feeling the stimulus along with the intensity of the sensation. A slower reaction speed or minimized sensation in the tooth could point to a dead tooth.
You will likely need to schedule a separate dentist appointment for this test so that the dentist has the necessary supplies on hand. But they can receive the results usually within the same appointment as the test.
Will I Need Further Dental Treatment?
As mentioned, non-vital tooth pulp does not always need urgent treatment from a dentist. They may want to keep an eye on the tooth during future appointments because a dead tooth has a higher chance of oral infections.
Some patients may ask their dentist about cosmetic treatment options to restore the look of a dead tooth. They can use porcelain veneers or dental bonding to brighten the color of the tooth.
If the patient feels pain or the pulp is already infected, the dentist will need to intervene promptly. They will recommend root canal therapy to treat the damaged tooth pulp.
After this treatment, a dentist covers a tooth with a dental crown. This stops further damage from harming the tooth and also restores the white color of the tooth too. Your dentist will provide details about the treatment you will need in your unique case once you receive your test results.