Root canals, contrary to popular belief, are not painful and can do a lot of good. A root canal is called for when there is extensive decay in the soft center of a tooth, known as the pulp. Once this pulp has become damaged due to damage or inflammation, it needs to be removed.
A root canal is a method of salvaging a tooth so it doesn’t need to be extracted. Once you extract a tooth, the space will need to be filled to prevent shifting teeth, changes in the facial structure, and loss of jawbone.
Are you wondering how you can tell if you need a root canal? In this blog from Del Mar Dental Studio, we’re going over the 6 biggest signs that you could need a root canal. To identify and learn more about these signs, read on.
1. Significant Pain, Especially When Chewing
One of the most notable signs that you could need a root canal is if you are experiencing a significant amount of pain, especially when applying pressure to the tooth such as when you chew.
Keep in mind, however, pain is not always a present sign even when someone does need a root canal and has extensive decay. The kind of pain that suggests you have an infected or dead tooth comes in waves. This pain will come and go and may worsen when laying down.
2. Tender, Swollen, or Dark Gums
Inflammation can cause swelling of the gums and facial area in general. Significant swelling that is noticeable when looking at the face is tender to the touch, and does not go away is a sign of an infected tooth. Dead pulp tissue produces acidic waste which causes a swelling response in the root tip of the tooth.
3. Chip or Crack in the Tooth
Whether you’ve chipped or cracked your tooth from playing sports, biting on something hard, or from an injury, this can be bad news for tooth health. If the chip has left the tooth’s root exposed, this leaves a wide-open space for bacteria to enter and cause infection.
This infection, if left untreated, can spread throughout the body, and even to your brain. It is very important to stop the infection with antibiotics and have the infected tissue inside of the tooth removed. Left to spread throughout the body untreated, it can be fatal in severe cases.
4. Gum Pimples
Have you noticed these little bumps around your gums that look like pimples? Do they leak pus if popped? This is likely an abscess caused by an infected tooth. If you notice gum pimples and a foul taste in your mouth or bad breath, that points to an abscess.
An abscess can be seen on an x-ray and will show up as a dark spot. If left untreated, it can cause serious damage to the jawbone, spread to your head and neck, and in serious cases, cause sepsis.
5. Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity is when your tooth feels discomfort or pain, especially when exposed to extreme temperatures of foods and drinks. After drinking an ice-cold drink, if you feel a dull ache that progresses into a sharp pain, this can be a sign of infection.
While tooth sensitivity can have many other causes and not necessarily indicate that a root canal is needed, if you have other symptoms indicating infection or inflammation and the tooth sensitivity does not go away shortly after eating, you could need a root canal. It suggests the root of your tooth’s nerves are damaged if this sensitivity lasts for weeks or months.
6. Dark/Discolored Tooth
Do you have a significantly discolored dark tooth? This could be a sign that the tooth's root has become damaged. If your surrounding teeth are perfectly healthy and white, this discoloration probably isn’t due to typical tooth staining.
Tooth infection will cause tooth discoloration due to nerve damage that causes the internal tissue to break down and darken. Your tooth's pulp can "die" and while the pulp isn't necessary to be healthy, you do need to have damaged pulp removed from the tooth to get rid of the infection which can spread through the body if left untreated.
Relieve Tooth Pain With Root Canal Therapy at Del Mar Dental Studio
Once deep decay has set into a tooth due to inadequate oral hygiene and lack of treatment, at some point there isn't much that can be done except a root canal or extraction. Once decay spreads into the nerve or the root of your tooth, a root canal will likely be needed to save your tooth.
The good news is that if you are experiencing significant pain due to the damaged pulp in your tooth, we can relieve this pain during your very first root canal appointment at Del Mar Dental Studio. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Todd Pizzi and take back control of your oral health.