Oral Surgery/dead tooth


I was in a car wreck 5 months ago. I had whiplash and thoracic outlet syndrome. it was worse on the right side.  my shoulder and neck muscles all the way up to my skull were so tight  that my right arm was constantly going dead when it was raised  and I was having headache so bad that it would make me throw up.  this lasted a couple of months.  my right jaw started hurting a few weeks ago and swelled up. I went to my dentist and he said I had a abcess and needed a root canal. As he started root canal, there was no blood and a horrible smell. He said my tooth was necrotic and asked if I had a injury to my jaw. I did not injure my job in accident.  I told him about the whiplash and the thoracic outlet syndrome.  he said that would not have caused it.  he did xrays looking for a fracture and cannot figure out why my tooth died.  I do grind my teeth at night but the rest of my teeth are fine. my question is if the muscles were compressed so tight that they were causing headaches and my arm to go dead,  could it also have cut off the blood flow to my tooth.  the dead tooth  is on the bottom right side .

Mary -  muscular compression of the teeth will usually not produce a decrease in blood flow to a tooth.  More likely, even though you did not feel any trauma to the tooth during the car wreck, it is very common in any traumatic incident to clench our teeth.  This trauma can be just a bad incident without trauma that you clenched your teeth quickly or it could be from a car accident where there was no direct trauma to your jaw or teeth but for body stabilization you clenched.  The jaws are the foundation to the entire body, as simple as that sounds, but that is why we clench during physical and emotional trauma.

So in any traumatic incident, teeth often sustain a simple quick loss of blood flow to the tooth and that could have caused the development of the nerve dying.  

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor at State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA- University of Connecticut DMD-University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency - Roosevelt Hospital, NYC

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