When you are having tooth pain, sometimes it is tempting to try to ignore it for as long as you possibly can to avoid a trip to the dentist. This is not a great idea. When your body shows that it is in pain, it is letting you know that something is wrong and you need to take care of it. In this post we will talk about root canals and the signs that point to you possibly needing one. But first what is a root canal?

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal can refer to two things. First it is the inner passage of the tooth that is between the pulp and the root. The term root canal can also refer to a dental procedure. During a root canal procedure, your dentist will remove infected material from your tooth and it will relieve your pain in the root canal.
The root canal is filled with nerves and blood vessels. Once the adult tooth has appeared, the nerves only function is to feel temperature and other stimuli. The nerve is removed to get rid of any pain caused by infected tooth pulp. Common causes for needing a root canal are a tooth becoming damaged, decaying, or becoming diseased.

The process of performing a root canal is not meant to keep the tooth alive but it does leave the structure intact. This is because by the time a root canal is needed, the tooth is already infected and dying. A root canal is done when there is no way of saving the tooth. It is important to take care of the infected tooth to keep the infection from spreading.

5 Signs You May Need a Root Canal

Your dentist will ask you questions about your symptoms to help determine if you will need a root canal or not. These symptoms, along with X-rays, will give the doctor enough information to diagnose what is causing your tooth problem. An experienced and professional doctor like Dr. Back can quickly diagnose your problem and create a treatment plan that will work for you. The following are 5 signs that are usually associated with needing a root canal.

Tooth Pain

Tooth pain is one of the first signs that will bring you to the dentist. Although there are many different types of tooth pain, there are a few connected with needing a root canal. Experiencing lingering pain is one of the most common signs. An example of this would be your tooth feeling sensitive for longer than a few minutes after consuming a hot or cold beverage. The lingering pain is usually a sign of pulpitis, an infection of the pulp.
Pain that comes and goes spontaneously is also associated with the need for a root canal. This pain can even wake you up in the middle of the night and is usually caused by a dead tooth. Some patients will experience what is called positional pain, which is pain that occurs when you are in a certain position i.e. lying down, bending over, standing up, etc.
The pain may be noticeable when chewing, biting, or when any pressure is applied to the infected tooth. Severity of the pain may vary from patient to patient. Tooth pain may start mild and can become more severe over time or be severe right from the start.

Gum Fistula

A gum fistula occurs when there is an active infection inside the tooth. It will appear as a pimple or boil on your gum, is tender to the touch, is reoccurring, and persistent. The fistula can be red, yellow, or white, as they are filled with blood, infectious materials, and pus. These can often drain and result in a bad taste in your mouth.

Darkened or Discolored Tooth

This is very different than your teeth just becoming discolored from your diet or aging. For that, you can seek a whitening treatment. A discolored tooth becomes a concern when it happens suddenly to one tooth and the shade is drastically different from your others. When the pulp becomes infected and your tooth begins to die, your tooth can become dark and change color, often yellow, gray, or black.

Tender or Swollen Gums

Tender and/or swollen gums can range from just slightly tender to very pronounced, almost like a lump, and extremely painful. This can also be a symptom of other serious dental problems, such as gingivitis. If the root canal is left untreated, this swelling and tenderness can spread to your face and neck. The swelling can cause the infected tooth to feel lifted or taller.

Pain in Other Areas

Pain that radiates to other areas other than the infected tooth is a sign that you may need a root canal. This pain may travel to other teeth, the jawline, or ear. Radiating pain is usually a sign of a severe infection that has been left untreated for too long. The problem needs to be treated quickly to prevent it from spreading further. If you have pain that started in one tooth, and is now radiating to other areas it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible.

Why Do You Need to See a Dentist?

It is important to see a dentist so they can give you the proper diagnoses and determine if you need a root canal. Although you may have all of the signs of a root canal, only a highly experienced and qualified dentist can diagnosis it. This is often done by asking you about your symptoms and performing X-rays on the tooth that is causing you problems.
If your dentist determines that a root canal procedure is the best for you, a procedure will be scheduled along with a follow up to seal the root canal with a crown. It is very important to have your root canal done by an experienced and reputable dentist. If a root canal is done incorrectly, your symptoms will not be relieved and more problems can occur.

Having your root canal taken care of as soon as possible will stop the bacteria from inside the tooth’s pulp chamber from multiplying and causing a more intense infection. Bacteria and decayed debris can also cause an abscessed tooth. An abscess is a puss filled pocket that begins to form at the end of the root of the tooth. As infection spreads past the ends of the root of the tooth it can cause bone loss.
When a root canal is left untreated, the tooth often times needs to be removed. Having your tooth removed can be painful and costly as you must replace the extracted tooth with an implant to keep your teeth from shifting. A root canal can preserve your natural tooth and save you from this process.

We know having any dental procedure is not very appealing, but our office will do everything possible to keep you at ease. At Sarasota Smile, a warm and welcoming atmosphere is created to ease your nerves about having any procedure done. While you are in the chair we make sure that you are as comfortable as possible with a warm blanket and essential oils. If you think you may need a root canal, don’t wait! Give our office a call today.