Tooth Vitality Testing FAQs

Have you noticed pain or discoloration in one of your teeth? Blood flow might be restricted in the pulp of this tooth, leading to what many refer to as a dead tooth. Not every case of non-vital tooth pulp displays prominent symptoms, so dentists monitor their patients’ oral health and perform tooth vitality testing if necessary.

But when does a dentist perform this test, and what do the test results indicate? Dr. Jason Baldwin, a dentist practicing in Truckee, CA, responds to frequently asked questions regarding tooth pulp vitality and related testing that your dentist may recommend.

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Why Does My Dentist Want to Test My Tooth Vitality?

A dead tooth, or a tooth whose pulp is not receiving enough blood, may occur for a number of reasons, including tooth decay or impact trauma. If this pulp does not get an adequate amount of blood flow, it might be at risk of an infection, which can be painful and require extensive dental work.

Though some patients notice symptoms associated with non-vital tooth pulp, others may not experience any issues with their affected tooth. The dentist may spot the issue on an x-ray taken during a routine exam. To confirm the pulp is damaged, the dentist may recommend tooth vitality testing before considering treatment.

What Can I Expect During This Test?

Your dentist will likely ask you to schedule a separate appointment to complete tooth vitality testing so that they can ensure the necessary tools are on hand. Dentists usually opt for thermal testing when evaluating the health of a patient’s tooth pulp.

This test involves a cold stimulus that the dentist will apply to the affected tooth as well as surrounding areas of the mouth. They will monitor the patient’s reaction speed and intensity when exposed to the stimulus. A slower response or a reduced sensation in the tooth could suggest a non-vital tooth pulp.

Will I Need Further Dental Treatment After This Test?

A dead tooth does not necessarily require intervention from a dental professional. If the patient otherwise has no symptoms or issues, the dentist may recommend monitoring the tooth going forward. Some patients may work with their dentist to develop a cosmetic treatment plan to amend discoloration that can occur in a dead tooth.

However, if the patient is in pain or has an infection in the tooth pulp, the dentist will want to proceed with further treatment. They might need root canal therapy to remove the damaged pulp and clear out the infection. Your dentist can provide more detailed treatment recommendations once they see the results of your tooth vitality test.

Learn More During a Dentist Appointment in Truckee, CA

Dr. Baldwin is a highly qualified dentist in Truckee, CA providing expert preventative dental care and other general dental treatments. Our practice also specializes in cosmetic and restorative dentistry, including periodontal care. To schedule a consultation with us, contact our staff online or reach our team by phone at 530.206.0392.