Root canal treatment (endodontics) is a dental procedure used to treat infection at the centre of a tooth. Root canal treatment is not painful and can save a tooth that might otherwise have to be removed completely. In most cases, a root canal is necessary to eliminate the infection in a tooth. This infection may be the result of a number of things, including a serious cavity or injury to a tooth.
Your oral health is directly linked to the health of your entire body. That’s why it’s so important to address problems with your teeth as soon as you notice them. However, sometimes it’s hard to tell if you actually need a root canal. Ultimately, a dentist needs to make the final diagnosis, but there are still warning signs you can look out for.
1. Tooth Pain
One of the most common signs you may need a root canal is severe tooth pain. More specifically, the pain you feel may not only be in the tooth but in the surrounding gum line as well.
This pain is a result of damage to the nerve located in the pulp of your tooth. The sensation may be very intense when biting down while eating. You may also notice more pain when you touch the tooth
It’s important to understand there are many different types of oral pain. If you’re experiencing any discomfort, you need to see a dentist.
However, if you’re suffering from sharp, stabbing pain, there’s a good chance your dentist will need to perform a root canal.
2. Sensitivity to Hot or Cold
Do you experience sensitivity when drinking either hot or cold beverages? This is an indication of an infected nerve in one of your teeth.
Some people simply have sensitive teeth and experience slight discomfort from heat and cold. If this is the case, you’ll likely feel sensitivity throughout your entire mouth. This discomfort is subtle and subsides quickly.
However, if you have an infection, the sensitivity is much more focused. Pay attention to the area you’re experiencing discomfort. If the pain is always around the same tooth, you may need a root canal.
3. Swollen Gums
Inflammation of the gums is very common. A number of oral problems can cause it, including gum disease, food getting stuck in the gum line, or oral injury. However, if you notice swollen gums at the base of a particular tooth, there may be a bigger issue. This could be an indication of an infection.
If an infection is present, you’re likely to notice sudden inflammation. During other oral problems such as gingivitis, the swelling is gradual and widespread.
Once you notice swelling, keep an eye on it. If it doesn’t disappear in a week’s time, you should see a dentist. If you notice pain around the swollen gums, you may need a root canal.
4. Sores on Your Gums
Many people experience canker sores on their gums as a result of acidic foods or hot beverages. These are relatively common and will go away on their own. However, the bacteria that accompany an infection can also cause sores on your gums. These are more like pimples beneath the surface of your gum line.
These sores, which are very similar to pimples you get on your face, are white bumps containing bacteria. If they’re a result of an infected tooth, you’ll notice them reoccurring in the same area. You may also notice pain in the area where the pimples appear.
If gone untreated, these sores can increase in size. You may also notice a foul taste, which is a result of the bacteria entering your mouth.
5. A Chipped Tooth
If you’ve experienced an oral injury that resulted in a chipped tooth, you may be at a higher risk of infection. This is because bacteria can easily access the softer tissue located deeper in the tooth.
A chipped tooth can happen as a result of something serious like a sports injury or something minor like biting down on hard foods. Even if the chip is very small, the tooth is more susceptible to infection.
This is why it’s important to have a chipped tooth repaired by a dentist right away. If fixed, you’ll avoid possible infection.
Don’t ignore a small chip just because there’s no pain. Because the nerve of the tooth is now more vulnerable, over time it may become infected.
Tooth discolouration can result from a number of things. Poor oral hygiene and staining from coffee, tea or cigarettes are very common. So there is no need for an instant alarm. However, discolouration can also be the result of nerve damage. This occurs when the pulp of the tooth becomes discoloured due to the infection located in the nerve. In this case, blood can actually enter the tooth and stain the pulp.
Cavities can also cause discolouration. It may be hard to see at first, but if a cavity goes untreated, it will spread and become more noticeable.
7. Prolonged Tooth Decay
Unfortunately, once you have a cavity (even a very small one) you can’t get rid of it on your own. Even diligent brushing and flossing won’t reverse the problem. A dentist must remove it.
If a cavity goes untreated for too long it will spread into the root and infect the nerve of the tooth. If this happens, a root canal and crown is your only option.
First, your dentist will perform the root canal to remove the infection. Then, after the cavity gets removed from the outer part of your tooth, they’ll apply a crown to protect it from future decay. This is why it’s important to have regular checkups and cleanings. Taking small steps to maintain good oral health will prevent bigger problems down the road.
If you need root canal treatment or have any concerns or questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact us: