How to Maintain Good Dental Health

Will the Pain in Your Tooth Go Away When the Nerve Dies?

An infected tooth can leave you in agony for days or weeks without dental treatment. The pain is due to the infection, caused by bacteria, reaching the nerve that resides in the middle of the tooth. Eventually, the infection will kill the tooth nerve, rendering the tooth essentially dead or non-vital.

Some patients believe that tooth pain will subside once a tooth nerve dies since much of the sensation comes from the nerve. But in many cases, the death of a tooth nerve does not mean that the toothache will dissipate. In fact, the pain could become even worse than before.

The infection could reach the periodontal membrane

The nerves inside your teeth aren't the only parts of a tooth that can feel. The areas around a tooth can feel too. And when these areas become infected, you'll feel pain that seems to radiate from within the dead tooth itself. One very sensitive area is the periodontal ligament or membrane. This tissue is sticky and helps to hold teeth inside their sockets. Infection can spread to this membrane.

When the infection inside a tooth grows to reach the periodontal membrane around the root of the tooth, you may experience severe pain. The nerve endings of the periodontal membrane are very sensitive. And if you don't seek treatment from your dentist, the pressure caused by the constant buildup of pus in the infected tooth will begin to irritate the periodontal membrane.

So, although the nerve is dead, the nerve endings of the periodontal ligament are not, which means that toothaches continue even if a tooth has died.

The pain could be referred to other teeth

Another issue that might arise is referred pain. Referred pain means that the pain from one area of the mouth seems to emanate from another area of the mouth. For instance, if the periodontal membrane of a lower molar is infected, the severe pain you feel could feel like it is coming from an upper molar.

Referred pain most commonly happens with teeth that are on the same side of the mouth. If the tooth that the pain seems to be coming from is in good condition and has no history of dental problems, then referred pain from a dead tooth is probably the cause of the toothache.

Your toothache probably won't end once the nerve inside your tooth dies. The pain could last for months or even years after the nerve has died. This is why swift dental treatment is essential if you have a tooth infection. A root canal can stop the infection from damaging the periodontal membrane.

Contact a dental care professional to learn more.