Are you trying to cope with the pain of an exposed or damaged nerve in a tooth? Then you’re probably wondering how long this pain will last before the nerve dies; at least you’ll know when to expect relief.
Unfortunately, the short answer is: Every situation is different. Depending on the cause it can vary from weeks to months.
To help you understand more and determine your plan of action, let’s explore.
What Causes a Tooth Nerve to Die?
Your teeth are made mainly of three parts:
The pulp is where blood vessels and the nerves are housed. It’s necessary to protect these parts because several things can cause damage to them and even let them die:
- When bacteria reach the pulp, it attacks the nerve. Over time, if not treated, the nerve can eventually die.
- When there’s bacteria your tooth will retaliate with an inflammatory response in the form of white blood cells. All of this increases the pressure inside the tooth and can get so intense that the nerve suffocates & dies.
This scenario can occur after any of the following:
- Extreme tooth decay that creates a cavity through which bacteria enters.
- Physical trauma to the tooth that affects blood flow or breaks the tooth.
- After a tooth extraction, a nerve can be left exposed.
- Tooth grinding that damages the exterior of the tooth.
How Long Will it Take?
There’s no saying how long the deterioration will take as it depends on how much bacteria entered and how you treat the problem. You or the dentist can fight off the infection with medicine or herbal treatments.
However, if you don’t get the problem under control and fixed it will lead to the nerve dying. During this time, you’re bound to experience a lot of pain.
Dying Nerve Symptoms and Treatment
The most common sign of a dying tooth nerve is pain. This is because of the pressure inside the pulp, the infection and many other nerve endings that will become irritated by the problem. Therefore, you may experience swelling in the gums around the tooth.
During this time you can use painkillers to make it easier to bare.
If the nerve is completely dead you may have less pain, but it’s important to treat the infection and make sure other parts of your gums or jaw aren’t affected.
Without a live nerve, your tooth will eventually change color. This is often referred to as a dead tooth.
Eventually, the tooth will fall out, but it’s risky to wait for this to happen as you may put other parts of your mouth at risk of infection.
The most common treatments for both dead and dying teeth are:
- Complete extraction of the tooth: This is a more cost-effective option.
- Doing a root canal: This is more expensive but you’ll still have the use of the tooth afterward.
Can You Stop the Nerve from Dying?
You determine what is possible by how quick you respond to the problem. In mild cases, if you can ensure the infection is removed and the cavity repaired you may not experience any further problems.
If you ignore the problem, however, it will deteriorate and eventually, there will be nothing left but to extract the tooth or do a root canal as mentioned above.
We don’t have control over all situations and even a small accident can cause a tooth nerve to start dying. But if we act the moment we suspect a problem, we can save ourselves some pain and even save a tooth. It may be time you visit the dentist.
Author: Peter Mayhew
Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.