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Old 05-30-2004, 10:20 AM   #1
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yewdale HB User
What does it mean when a tooth is dying?

I had to go and see the Emergency dentist yesterday because I had a throbbing toothache in two of my teeth. The dentist did the various tests and x-rays etc and concluded that one of them had abscessed and the other wasn't infected but was dying. So he extracted the abscessed tooth and basically said that he didn't want to do anything with the dying tooth and I should just wait and see how it goes.

What does it mean when I have a dying tooth? Should there be any symptoms? Are there any complications etc that can arise from this?

Thank you in advance for any advice.

Last edited by yewdale; 05-30-2004 at 11:44 AM. Reason: Missing word in title

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Old 05-30-2004, 06:17 PM   #2
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ysco HB User
Re: What does mean when a tooth is dying?

A "dead tooth" is a tooth of which the pulp and nerve tissues have been infected and damaged by bacteria beyond repair. The tooth is literally dead and does not have a sensation. a "dying" tooth probably refers to something in the midst of this process, meaning the pulp and the nerve have been infected beyond their ability to repair themselves but the infection has not reached final stages.

I don't understand why your dentist did not treat the other tooth. Such teeth must be treated promptly either with a root canal treatment or extraction. If left untreated, an abscess will form. Abscesses can lead to serious systematic complications if left untreated for a long period of time or if the infection is already widespread.

I suggest you re-visit this dentist and request a proper treatment for the "dying" tooth. If he or she refuses, see another dentist.
There is no sense in leaving the situation as it is, it will just worsen and when you do seek treatment it's likely to be more extensive and invasive and perhaps by then the tooth could not be even maintained by root canal and will must be pulled. The "watch and wait" approach is not valid in most dental diseases as they do not heal but tend to get worse.

hope this helps.

Old 05-31-2004, 04:20 AM   #3
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yewdale HB User
Re: What does mean when a tooth is dying?

Hi ysco,

Thanks for the reply. I did a search for information about it last night and I basically found out what you just told me so yes, I too was a little confused as to why he didn't do anything. Although he did give me some antibiotics to take as a precaution which I thought was a bit weird considering he said there wasn't any infection. However, he did tell me that the dying tooth was a predecessor of an abscess. It's really frustrating isn't it when you can't get a straight talking dentist and always have to find out all of the information yourself as dentists are so reluctant to do anything. I sometimes wonder if it's just that they can't be bothered or maybe they are worried of getting sued if it all goes wrong or something - I don't know. Anyway, I was hoping that after the extraction that would be the end of it but obviously it isn't.

I have an appointment to see my regular dentist on Wednesday, so I'll have a chat with her as to the best solution. I'm not a big fan of root canals as I've never had one succeed yet but I'm thinking that maybe if the tooth hasn't yet abscessed the chances of a successful root canal would be greatly increased - is this correct or am I just kidding myself?


Old 05-31-2004, 07:05 AM   #4
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ysco HB User
Re: What does mean when a tooth is dying?


To answer your question: I don't know if the chances would "greatly" increase but I assume they would be probably higher than if an abscess had formed, because then the infection would be more widespread and harder to clean and fill. As early as the infection is found and treated the better the prognosis is - as in most other human infections and diseases.
Generally speaking there is a 10% risk of failure in root canal treatments regardless of how advanced the infection is. But the odds vary too depending on the circumstances. If money is not an issue for you, in my opinion you should give RC a shot - pulling the tooth should be always your last resort. Also, pulling more and more teeth can cause further problems.

good luck.

Old 05-31-2004, 07:51 AM   #5
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Kaycee41 HB User
Re: What does mean when a tooth is dying?

I wouldn't hesitate to get a root canal. Although I know they can fail, I've had 6 root canals with no problems. Without them I would have a lot of missing teeth! Only thing missing now is my money...they are getting very pricey! My last two cost $924 and $825! Good luck.

Old 05-31-2004, 08:16 AM   #6
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yewdale HB User
Re: What does mean when a tooth is dying?

Hello again, thanks for your replies. I've actually had four root canals and two apicectomies before and all have failed. So I don't have a lot of faith in them. However, I've always had them performed by a regular dentist and I'm now told that there are specialists who just do root canals all day - is this true? I'm wondering if my chances of success would be better if I asked a specialist to perform it rather than my regular dentist.

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