Book your consultation today

Emergency appointments »

The Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of a Dead Tooth

teeth health dentist smile

Teeth are living parts of the body with a blood supply and a nerve supply.

A tooth is described as dead or necrotic when there is no more blood flow into and within the tooth leading to death of the the nerve within the tooth. A failure in blood flow can be caused by infection, tooth decay or injury to the tooth.

Sometimes a dead tooth becomes darker in colour but this is often not the case. But only a dental professional can diagnose and treat it.

The two major symptoms of a dead tooth are:


A dying or dead tooth isn’t always painful; however it can cause a range of pain from slight tenderness chewing on the affected tooth to extreme spontaneous pain. The pain can be attributed to infection or a dying nerve.

People wonder why they experience the pain if the tooth is dead. The pain is from extremely sensitive nerve endings on the tooth’s exterior.

The buildup of pus, bacteria and dead nerve remnants apply pressure causing immense pain. In the cases where there is an infection, it may turn into an abscess with these symptoms:

  • Bad taste
  • Bad smell
  • Inflammation
  • A pimple on the gums

Change in Color

A dead tooth will change in color and become dark yellow, gray, and black. The change in color is very similar to bruising where the red blood cells are dying. The discolouration happens when the tooth is untreated and gradually increases over time.

Treatment of a Dead Tooth

Early treatment is necessary to prevent bacterial infection from reaching the root and attacking other teeth and the jawbone.

Even if there is no pain, you should immediately visit your dentist when you suspect a dead tooth. The dentist will make a diagnosis using an x-ray.

Treatment for a dead tooth can involve:

  1. Extraction of the tooth if it cannot be repaired. Early treatment will ensure no unnecessary loss of a tooth. The tooth is then replaced through an implant or a fixed bridge.
  2. A root canal treatment to clear all infection from within the tooth and root. The tooth is cleaned and sealed to prevent a repeat infection. Root canal treatment has a high success rate of 80-95% if conducted carefully by a skilled dentist and if successful the tooth can be retained and the symptoms eliminated. Once the infection and pain has been successfully eliminated the appearance of the tooth can be improved with internal whitening, or a crown or veneer.

Read the full story here


Free Consultation

To download a voucher for a consultation to discuss any of the issues covered; click below.

Free Consultation



Dr Ashley Davenport BDS MFGDP(UK)

I qualified as a dentist in 1995 and can honestly say that I have been doing a job that I love for the past 20 plus years. Most people who know me well know that dentistry is a passion for me and that if I won the lottery I would still want to have some dentistry in my life. I get huge satisfaction from treating patients and making a difference to ...

View full bio

Dr Catherine Myatt BDS MFGDP(UK)

Cath joined the practice as a dentist in 2002.  She and Ashley met on their postgraduate Vocational Training course in Birmingham when they ended up working at the same practice in West Bromwich.  When Ashley was looking for an associate at Balsall Common Dental Practice, Cath came to take the role and she has been here ever since.  In 2017 Cath...

View full bio


Sign Up For Our Newsletter!

Follow Us

Finding us is easy

201 Station Road
Balsall Common
West Midlands
Tel: 01676 529000

View on map

Last updated: April 20th, 2024

All our dentists adhere to the guidelines governing the profession which can be viewed on the GDC website.

Complaints Policy Privacy Policy Digital Privacy Policy