How Long Can a Dead Tooth Stay in Your Mouth?


How Long Can a Dead Tooth Stay in Your Mouth?

A healthy smile is important, but sometimes, teeth can die due to injury or decay. This article explores how long a dead tooth can stay in your mouth, the risks of keeping it there, and what you should do if you suspect you have one.

What is a Dead Tooth?

A dead tooth, also known as a non-vital tooth, occurs when there is no longer any blood flow to the tooth. This can happen due to severe decay, injury, or trauma. The tooth’s pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels, dies, causing infection and other problems. If you suspect you have a dead tooth, consult an NHS dentist for professional advice and treatment.

Causes of a Dead Tooth

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a common cause of a dead tooth. Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, which can progress to the pulp and cause it to die. Bacteria from decay can infect the pulp, leading to a dead tooth.

Will an Emergency Dentist Extract a Tooth

Injury or Trauma

Physical trauma, such as a blow to the mouth or a fall, can damage the blood vessels inside a tooth. This damage can result in the death of the tooth over time.

How quickly the tooth dies depends on:

  1. The injury’s severity.
  2. The tooth’s response to the trauma.

Signs of a Dead Tooth

Identifying a dead tooth can be tricky. Sometimes, there are no immediate symptoms. However, here are some common signs to look out for:


A dead tooth often changes colour. While healthy teeth are typically white, a dead tooth can turn yellow, grey, brown, or even black. This discolouration is a clear indicator that something is wrong.


While a dead tooth may not always hurt, it can cause significant pain for some people. This pain is often due to the infection and pressure in the pulp area.

Are Emergency Dentists More Expensive

Bad Breath and Taste

Infection from a dead tooth can lead to chronic bad breath and a foul taste in your mouth. This is due to the build-up of bacteria around the affected tooth.

Swelling and Abscess

Swelling around the gum line and the presence of an abscess near the tooth root are signs of a dead tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket. It can cause serious problems if not treated.

Can You Get an Emergency Dentist Appointment Anywhere

How Long Can a Dead Tooth Stay in Your Mouth?

A dead tooth can remain in your mouth for days, weeks, months, or even years. The exact duration depends on the extent of the damage and the body’s response. However, keeping a dead tooth in your mouth for an extended period is not advisable. Here’s why:

Risk of Infection

A dead tooth is prone to infection, which can spread to surrounding teeth and gums. This can lead to more severe dental issues, including abscesses and jawbone loss.

Pain and Discomfort

Keeping a dead tooth can cause ongoing pain and discomfort. The infection can lead to swelling, tenderness, and difficulty chewing.

Can You Get an Emergency Dentist Appointment Anywhere

Aesthetic Issues

A discoloured dead tooth can affect the appearance of your smile. This can impact your confidence and overall appearance.

Tooth Loss

Eventually, a dead tooth can fall out on its own. However, waiting for this to happen can cause more harm than good. The process weakens the nearby bone and tissue. This makes future dental procedures more complicated.

Treating a Dead Tooth

Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy is a common treatment for a dead tooth. During this procedure, the dentist removes the dead pulp, cleans the root canal, and seals it. This can save the tooth and prevent further infection. A crown is often placed over the tooth to protect it and restore its function.

Do You Have To Pay For Emergency Dentist UK

Tooth Extraction

If the damage is too severe, the dentist may recommend extracting the dead tooth. This is especially common if the tooth is causing significant pain or infection. After extraction, options like dental implants, bridges, or dentures can replace the missing tooth.

Preventing a Dead Tooth

Good Oral Hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial in preventing tooth decay and injury. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly, and use mouthwash to keep your mouth clean and healthy.

What happens if you can’t afford Dental treatment UK

Regular Dental Check-ups

Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. This allows the dentist to spot potential issues early and treat them before they become serious.

Protective Gear

If you play contact sports, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth from injury. This can prevent trauma that might lead to a dead tooth.

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet can also help maintain your dental health. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, and eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals.


A dead tooth can stay in your mouth for a long time, but it’s not advisable to leave it untreated. The risks of infection, pain, and further dental complications are high. If you suspect you have a dead tooth, see your dentist soon. They can give you a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups can prevent this issue. They keep your smile healthy.

Ready to Take Charge of Your Dental Health?

If you suspect you have a dead tooth or want to ensure your teeth stay healthy, contact Old Town Dental Care. Our experienced team offers comprehensive dental services, from routine check-ups to advanced treatments like root canals and extractions. Don’t wait until it’s too late—schedule your appointment today and take the first step towards a healthier, brighter smile. Visit Old Town Dental Care and let us help you maintain optimal oral health. Your perfect dental care experience starts here!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a dead tooth heal on its own?

No, a dead tooth cannot heal on its own. Professional dental treatment, such as a root canal or extraction, is necessary to address the issue.

How can I tell if my tooth is dead?

Signs of a dead tooth include discolouration, pain, swelling, and chronic bad breath. A dentist can provide a definitive diagnosis through an examination.

Is it painful to treat a dead tooth?

Treating a dead tooth is not painful. This is especially true with modern techniques like root canal therapy. Dentists use local anaesthesia to numb the area during the procedure.

What happens if I leave a dead tooth untreated?

Leaving a dead tooth untreated can cause serious complications. These include spreading infection, jawbone loss, and harm to nearby teeth and gums.

How can I prevent my teeth from dying?

To prevent tooth death, keep teeth clean. Visit the dentist often. Use gear during sports. Eat well to support teeth.