How Long Can A Dead Tooth Stay In Your Mouth?

It’s not a nice thought, is it, having a dead tooth in your mouth! However, you may wish to leave it, especially if it is a cosmetic issue.

If you have had an accident and the nerve of the tooth has been damaged, chances are it will die. How long can a dead tooth stay in your mouth? Should you try to remove it? We are here to go through the answers with you.

What Happens If A Dead Tooth Is Not Removed?

What Happens If A Dead Tooth Is Not Removed

You may not know this, but teeth are actually living tissue. The part that people call the “nerve” is actually pulp, blood vessels and other tissue.

In order to have strong, healthy teeth, this inner layer must have a healthy blood supply. When this stops, either because of trauma or infection, the tooth will die.

They can change colour, cause you pain – or you may notice not symptoms at all. A visit to your dentist will identify any problems like this.

  • A dead tooth is not only unsightly, but it can pose a health risk to the rest of your mouth as well.
  • If the tooth has died, it can spread bacteria to the surrounding area, and cause problems and infections in the neighbouring teeth.
  • Dental infections do not only affect the teeth, but they can also get into the gums and even the jaw, creating more problems.
  • It may take weeks, months, or even years for these problems to become apparent, but by the time you notice it things may be too late.
  • The best thing you can do for the health of your entire mouth is to regularly visit your dentist, and practise the best oral hygiene.
  • If you have had a trauma tot he mouth that is causing tooth pain, visit your dentist as soon as you can.
  • Your tooth may not be dead, but it is best to get it checked out as soon as possible, to deal with any potential problems.

Can You Leave A Dead Tooth In Your Mouth?

You can, of course, leave your dead tooth for as long as you like – it is your mouth, of course!

However, leaving a dead tooth in your mouth can ultimately cause a whole host of health problems throughout your entire mouth:

  • The dead tooth is basically necrotic tissue, which can spread bacteria to the surrounding area.
  • Neighbouring teeth can be affected and develop pain or infections.
  • A dead tooth can cause problems with the gums too, as the bacteria spread around the dead tooth.
  • Infections deep below the gum line can spread to the jaw, causing changes to your facial structure.
  • The tooth may eventually fall out, leaving cosmetic changes to your whole face and affecting your confidence.
  • Your dentist can help you fix the problem, either by removing the offending tooth or by performing a root canal.
  • This procedure will not save the tooth per se, but it can prevent problems that spread throughout the rest of your mouth.

This video, made by a dentist, will tell you a little more about your options for a dead tooth:


Will A Dead Tooth Eventually Fall Out?

In theory, a tooth that has no blood supply will eventually fall out on its own. However, this may take a long time!

And, whilst you wait for it to fall out, it will be unsightly and potentially causing problems with your other teeth that you cannot even see.

In some cases, a dead tooth may not fall out at all, causing a variety of mouth problems. In others, it can take years for the tooth to fall out.

If it is a young child who has had a trauma to the face and you notice a tooth becoming discoloured, this is less of a worry than for an adult.

We all change our teeth once during our life times, and a young person who still has their milk teeth is at less risk than an adult who has a dead tooth.

Generally, if a milk tooth has died, it will cause no problems to the adult tooth underneath, and it will grow through later just fine.

This being said, if you suspect that your child has a dead tooth, you should still take a trip to the dentist to check the overall health of the mouth and the surrounding teeth.

How Long Does It Take For A Dead Tooth To Go Black?

The length of time it takes for a dead tooth to go black depends on the reason for the tooth’s death.

  • If it caused by tooth decay, the blackness can creep in over a period of many years. You may not notice straight away, unless the affected tooth is causing you pain.
  • Tooth decay can cause a tooth to die when the acids from the things we put in our mouths slowly start to eat away at the tooth.
  • Some lifestyle choices can cause discolouration of teeth – alcohol, tea and coffee and smoking are all major culprits.
  • This type of discolouration does not necessarily mean that your tooth is dead – yet! You will need to up your oral hygiene to prevent further problems in the future.
  • When a tooth has been “killed” by a trauma, you may not notice the discolouration for a few weeks.
  • As soon as the blood supply to the tooth is removed, the tooth will start to die as it is not receiving the nutrients it needs.

If you notice a tooth starting to discolour, for whatever reason, it is important that you book a dentist visit as soon as you can.

Final Words

Having a dead tooth in your mouth is not really what you want. Now you know a little more about it, hopefully you will be better equipped to deal with this issue if it arises for you.