Dental Blog

How To Determine If You Need A Root Canal

For patients with extensive tooth decay, a severely infected nerve chamber, or severe tooth damage caused by trauma, root canal treatment is usually the only way to save the tooth and avoid extraction. Root canals are important because they are responsible for saving millions of teeth every year. Here are some signs to look out for, to determine if you need a root canal.

1. A Chipped or Cracked Tooth

When you chip or crack your tooth, the space created allows bacteria to set in the inner areas of your tooth and gradually causes infection and decay.

2. Loose Tooth

If you are experiencing pain in a tooth that is also loose, it could be one of the signs that you need a root canal. The infection under the tooth causes damage to your bone, resulting in a loosening of your tooth.

3. Discoloration

While discoloration may be the result of a tooth stain, it’s can also be a clear sign that you might need a root canal. In many cases, discoloration or darkening of the teeth is a sign of tooth decay. If a single tooth starts to darken or a dark spot appears on one of your teeth, it may be a sign that there is a more serious problem.

4. Tooth and Gum Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is a warning sign that the infection has reached the nerves inside of your tooth. While tooth sensitivity is also a sign of gingivitis, it’s also a sign of infection and decay that can only be resolved with a root canal. Once your tooth is infected, the infection will spread to surrounding areas, including your gums. This will cause sensitivity in both the tooth and gums. The pressure of chewing and biting will result in sensitivity and pain, as will eating hot and cold foods.

5. Swollen Gums

Swollen gums are one of the most common signs of needing a root canal. The infection in your tooth affects your gums, making them tender, red, and swollen. You may also notice your gums are quick to bleed during eating or brushing your teeth.

6. Drainage

Sometimes the infection inside the tooth drains into the gum, causing a bump called a periodontal abscess.

The symptoms of a periodontal abscess are:

  • Red, shiny, swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Swollen face, near the abscess
  • Sudden, throbbing pain that doesn’t get better
  • Pain while laying down

An abscess is a reason to seek dental help immediately because in some cases, an untreated abscess you may find it difficult to open your mouth or have trouble with breathing and swallowing.

7. Persistent Pain

Overall, the main sign of needing a root canal is persistent pain. The pain of an infected tooth can range from a dull ache to an intense and powerful throbbing that cannot be ignored.

Testing To See If A Root Canal Is Necessary:

If your dentist suspects tooth decay, he or she will use the following tests to determine if a root canal is necessary:

  • X-ray the area
  • Thermal testing to test nerve sensitivity
  • Electronic testing of the inner pulp
  • Tooth probing

Think you might need a root canal? Contact us here to schedule an appointment or speak to an expert.

This entry was posted in My Dentist and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.