a dentist preps a patient for a root canal

How Do You Know If You Need A Root Canal?

Team Endodontics, Root Canal Treatment

Determining if you need a root canal will require confirmation from a dentist. A root canal is necessary when the soft inner portion of your tooth (pulp) becomes infected, inflamed, or is otherwise injured. Damage to the pulp of your tooth may result from a variety of conditions, including tooth decay resulting from an untreated cavity. A chipped or cracked tooth may also damage your inner tooth. Likewise, a sudden injury to a tooth stemming from an accident, or a sports injury can damage the pulp of your tooth, even if there are no visible chips or cracks. 

Irrespective of the cause of damage to the pulp of your tooth, this painful condition requires treatment, in the form of a root canal, ASAP.  Unfortunately, although the pain may resolve with over-the-counter pain medications temporarily, the underlying condition will not. Worse, an infection in your tooth pulp can spread to other parts of the body. Suffice it to say, you should seek treatment right away if you experience any of the six following symptoms. 

  1. Gum and Tooth Pain

    Gum or tooth pain can be a symptom of a variety of dental conditions, including damage to the pulp of a tooth. Pain stemming from an infected or decaying tooth may worsen when brushing your teeth or chewing. If you experience any new onset of pain in your teeth or gums, schedule a dental appointment.

  2. Sensitivity

    It is normal to experience tooth sensitivity from time to time, particularly when eating very cold foods, such as ice cream. However, if you find yourself wincing due to extreme tooth sensitivity, it’s important to see a dentist right away. Extreme sensitivity is a warning sign that something is wrong with either a single tooth or multiple teeth. 

  3. Tooth discoloration

    If you notice a tooth changing color, contact your dentist. Although discoloration may have an innocuous cause, such as a simple stain, it can also be a sign of tooth decay. Tooth decay can result from a variety of problems, including an infection in the pulp of your tooth. 

  4. Unusual Swelling

    Swelling in your gum line requires dental treatment as soon as possible. While swelling may not indicate that you need a root canal, it does indicate that something is wrong. Swelling around the gumline or even extending into your face or neck is a symptom of an infection that will not resolve without professional dental care. 

  5. Cracks or Chips in Teeth

    If you notice a crack or a chip in a tooth, schedule a dental appointment right away. Bacteria can quickly develop in cracks or chips, aggravating the nerves of your teeth, and leading to an infection of the pulp.

  6. Loose Teeth

    If any of your teeth feel looser than others, this is a clear sign of something wrong.  Though a loosened tooth may not indicate you need a root canal, it is a symptom of a problem within the pulp of your tooth. A loosening tooth may also be a sign that the bone of your jaw may be softening, and dental intervention is required. 

What To Expect During a  Root Canal

Techniques used to perform root canals have evolved, making the procedure far less frightening or painful than you may imagine. Thanks to technology, a root canal is now akin to getting a deep filling.  You will be given a local anesthetic to numb your teeth and gums. Then the decay will be cleaned, the area will be disinfected, and then filled in.  

Nearly all patients report a reduction of pain within just a day or two of having a root canal. You may need to finish a course of antibiotics to eradicate any lingering infection, but within a week, you should be free from all pain and discomfort.

Schedule a Dentist Appointment in Fleming Island

Regular dental exams are powerful preventative measures to take to ward off infections of the teeth and gums. To schedule emergency dental care, or regular cleaning and exam, call 904-264-6700 or request an appointment online today.