Ignoring a dead tooth is not a wise strategy. Without intervention, the tooth will continue to deteriorate. Although it will almost certainly loosen and eventually fall out of its socket, this can take some time, and your overall dental health is at risk during this time. The infection within the tooth might not be confined to the tooth. Bacteria spread to the surrounding tissues and can even enter your bloodstream, leading to potentially serious health complications. If you suspect that one of your teeth is in the process of dying, you need to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Save That Tooth

Your dentist's first priority will be to save the dead tooth. It cannot technically be brought back to life, but it can be modified so it can safely stay in place, if your dentist is able to intervene early enough. What can your dentist do for your dead tooth?

A Root Canal

For the tooth to be saved, a root canal is necessary. This is not as unpleasant as it might sound. The tooth will be opened, and its internal nerve (pulp) will be removed. The pulp chamber is then closed to prevent reinfection. Antibiotics will generally be required to clear up the existing infection from your dead tooth. 

Sealing the Tooth

Following the root canal, the tooth will need to be sealed. In some cases, the tooth can be sealed with dental cement (the same material used to fill a cavity) and left as is. This is usually only possible with the frontward facing teeth (your incisors and canine teeth) as they have less surface area at their top, as opposed to a rear molar. When the tooth cannot be sealed in this manner, a dental crown might be required. Alternatively, the tooth can be sealed, but its colour might have been irreparably altered by the death of its pulp. A veneer can cover the outward-facing surface of the tooth so that its colour is the same as its neighbours.

Replacing the Tooth

Sometimes, a dead tooth cannot be saved. In this case, your dentist will recommend extraction. The missing tooth will need to be replaced in some form, whether it's with a dental implant, dental bridge or removable denture. This decision might not need to be made at the time of extraction, since the site will need to heal before a prosthetic replacement can be fitted, and your dentist will be able to discuss the best options in your particular case.

Although it's easy to ignore a dead tooth, it's not a good idea to do so, since the situation will inevitably get worse without treatment.