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What Is a Tooth Vitality Test?

Are you experiencing pain or discoloration in one or more of your teeth? You may have non-vital pulp in your tooth. This occurs when blood flow becomes restricted to the tooth.

Though a dead tooth might not be a dental emergency, your dentist will want to monitor the issue to reduce the risk of dental problems. This will entail completing tooth vitality testing to confirm the diagnosis. Dr. Scott Finlay, a dentist practicing in Annapolis, MD, responds to frequently asked questions regarding tooth pulp vitality and related testing that your dentist may recommend.

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Tooth Vitality Testing FAQs

Why Do I Need a Tooth Vitality Test?

Some patients notice dark discoloration or pain in a tooth if the pulp is non-vital. But many other individuals do not experience any symptoms if their tooth pulp is not receiving an adequate amount of blood.

However, your dentist may notice an issue with blood flow in your teeth in an x-ray image taken during a routine dental exam. If this is the case, your dentist will want to confirm the problem with tooth vitality testing.

What Occurs During This Vitality Test?

If your dentist recommends a tooth vitality test, you will likely need to schedule another visit to your dentist’s office so that the staff can assemble the appropriate materials. The most common type of vitality test is thermal testing.

In this process, your dentist will place a cold stimulus on the affected tooth as well as other areas of the mouth. They will monitor the reaction time and the intensity of the sensation. A slower speed or less feeling from the stimulus may signify a dead tooth.

Will I Need Further Treatment After This Testing?

Non-vital tooth pulp may occur due to impact trauma, advanced tooth decay, or an oral infection. Your dentist will treat the underlying cause of the dead tooth when they confirm the diagnosis.

The non-vital pulp itself does not necessarily require intervention from a dental professional, though they will likely want to monitor the condition as it could heighten the risk of infection in the pulp. Some patients will ask their dentist for a cosmetic dental solution to resolve the discoloration that may develop due to non-vital tooth pulp.

If the tooth pulp is infected, your dentist will recommend root canal therapy. This procedure will remove the damaged tooth pulp and clear away the infection. The treatment concludes with a dental crown to cover the vulnerable tooth and prevent further damage from accruing. Your dentist will discuss specific treatment options for your smile after evaluating the results of your tooth vitality test.

Learn More from Your Dentist in Annapolis, MD

Annapolis Smiles provides high-quality preventative dental care for patients of all ages in Annapolis, MD. Dr. Finlay also specializes in implant, restorative, cosmetic, and general dentistry, including periodontal care. To schedule an appointment with our practice, reach our staff by phone at 410.989.7132 or contact our office online.