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How Do You Know If You Need a Root Canal?

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Root canals are synonymous with a painful dental procedure—but with advances in dental processes, a root canal can be done with minimal discomfort. 

But how do you know if you need a root canal? We’ll look into some telltale signs that may lead your dentist to recommend this procedure. Remember to have regular dental check-ups and practice good oral hygiene habits at home, and maybe none of these signs will ever apply to you!

What Is a Root Canal?

To treat a tooth that has infected or inflamed pulp inside, root canals are the remedy. It’s a safe and effective dental procedure that allows your dentist to remove the damaged root to prevent further infection. Root canals can also restore teeth that have become damaged in other ways. In most cases, a root canal is the only way to save seriously damaged or infected teeth.

What Happens During a Root Canal?

During a root canal, your dentist will remove the infected or inflamed pulp by drilling a small hole in your tooth. They will then clean and shape the canal where the infected pulp was. Once the canal has been cleaned, the dentist fills it with a rubber-like material, sealing the area to prevent bacteria from entering. 

After the canal has been sealed, the dentist will place a dental crown to protect the tooth. 

6 Signs That You Need a Root Canal

Some signs of needing a root canal can be obvious, such as persistent pain or sensitivity to temperature when you’re eating or drinking. But, some signs can only be noticed by your dentist during a dental exam or by viewing an X-ray. 

Gum Issues of Any Kind

If you have swollen gums, tender gums, bumps on your gums, or gums that appear darker than the rest, a visit to your dentist could be your saving grace. Any of these gum issues could indicate something is awry. Noticing symptoms in your gums might indicate an infection in the tooth, which will require a root canal. 

Cracked or Chipped Tooth

Cracks and chips can result from contact sports, eating hard foods, or sustaining some kind of injury, among other things. If you wind up with a crack or chip in your tooth, a root canal may be the remedy. 

Depending on how your tooth was cracked or chipped, the nerves beneath the tooth’s surface may become exposed. If this is left untreated, the nerves could become infected, which then enters the bloodstream leading to more severe consequences.  

Tooth Pain That Just Won’t Quit

Pain is often the primary reason we head to the doctor, including tooth pain. Now, pain is not necessarily a guaranteed sign of needing a root canal, but it does indicate an issue. 

Persistent pain in your mouth could be warning you that the root of your tooth needs to be checked out. If you can’t comfortably drink or eat without feeling some kind of discomfort, book an appointment with your dentist so they can assess the source. 

Women experiencing toothache due to temperature sensitivity while drinking water with ice

Temperature Sensitivity

If you always bring your hand to your mouth for comfort after sipping icy cold drinks or hot beverages, you have temperature sensitivity. It’s not always a sign that you need a root canal, but if the discomfort lingers, the blood vessels and nerves below your teeth could have some damage, which means (you guessed it): root canal!

Severe Tooth Decay

If you have a cavity and it progresses too long without being addressed, you could end up with severe tooth decay. An ignored cavity can spread to the nerves beneath your teeth and into the root.  

When your cavity has progressed to the point of no return, you may need a root canal. Keeping your mouth free from cavities is a great way to prevent needing a root canal.

Your Dentist Tells You

This may go without saying, but if you’ve visited your dentist and they inform you that the next time you visit will be for a root canal—listen to them. You’ll be grateful that you take the precaution of a root canal before the oral situation worsens into something potentially more painful and expensive to fix. 

Keep Up With Your Oral Hygiene Routine

Maintaining great oral hygiene habits at home paired with regular dental exams and cleanings to your dentist could help prevent the need for a root canal. 

If you need a root canal, having a compassionate and caring dentist can help make the process tolerable and keep the discomfort to a minimum. We’ll treat your tooth with a local anesthetic and offer pain medication to help you manage any discomfort after your root canal.

If it’s time for your check-up or you suspect you may need a root canal, give us a call, and we’ll help you get your oral health back on track. 

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