How To Tell If You Need A Root Canal

If you have a tooth that’s severely damaged or decayed, you may need to have a root canal to save it. In the past, the only treatment for a severely damaged tooth was extraction. Today, however, you can have a root canal and keep your natural tooth. The best news — the procedure is fairly simple and relatively painless, so you don’t have to worry.

Top Signs You May Need a Root Canal

How can you tell if you need a root canal? Only your dentist can determine if you need a root canal. However, there are a few common signs that may indicate you’re dealing with a damaged or infected tooth that may need root canal treatment.

Some of the top signs you need root canal therapy include:

  • Swelling and inflammation: Swelling of the gums around the tooth may occur and could be a sign that an abscess is forming.
  • Severe tooth pain: The pain may be constant and bad enough to interrupt sleep.
  • Radiating pain: Sometimes pain from the tooth radiates into the jaw, temples or ear.
  • Pain when touching the tooth or biting: You may only have pain when you touch the tooth or bite. It’s usually caused by infection or inflammation at the root.
  • Sensitivity to cold: Sensitivity to cold, particularly if it remains after the stimulus has been removed.
  • Sensitivity to heat: Sensitivity to heat may be a sign that the pulp has been irreversibly damaged.
  • A darkened tooth: A tooth that suddenly appears darker than the teeth around it.
  • Broken-down tooth: A tooth that appears to be broken, cracked or damaged severely can be a sign of serious decay.

Root Canals — A Simple, Relatively Painless Procedure

One of the biggest myths surrounding root canals is that they are extremely painful. The truth — most people feel no pain during this treatment. A local anesthetic is given to better ensure you’re comfortable throughout the procedure.

After you get a local anesthetic, a dental dam is used to protect the tooth and keep it clean. Your dentist will make an opening in the top of your tooth and then remove the damaged pulp. The pulp chamber and root canals are cleaned and the tooth is carefully sealed. A crown is placed on top to offer greater strength to the structure. It’s quite simple, relatively painless and doesn’t take a huge amount of your time.

The Consequences of Postponing a Root Canal

Postponing a root canal can be a problem. When the tooth’s pulp has been damaged, it breaks down and bacteria multiply inside the pulp chamber. This can result in an infection or an abscess. Some of the consequences that you can experience if you avoid having the root canal include bone loss around the tooth’s root — as well as infection and swelling that can spread to other parts of your neck, head or face.

Be aware of the signs that you may need a root canal. If you experience these symptoms, get treatment as soon as possible. Contact Natomas Crossing Dental Care today to schedule an appointment if you think you may need root canal therapy.