Root canal. Are there two words in the English language that are more cringeworthy?
No one likes to imagine their dentist going into the roots of their teeth to remove infected parts and then reshaping the root canals, but sometimes it needs to be done.
Then again, sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on the type of tooth pain and if your dentist believes that the infection is bad enough to merit a root canal.
How do you know if you should see your dentist about the possibility of getting a root canal? Below, we’ll cover some of the clearest signs that can indicate a need for a root canal and what you should do if you believe that’s the case.
Root Canal Signs and Symptoms
Did you know that a “root canal” not only refers to the procedure to solve the problem but also a specific part of your tooth? Root canals are the “tunnels” connecting the pulp of your teeth to the roots.
Sometimes, this pulp can become infected, leading to serious issues. What signs should you watch for?
Constant pain in the teeth. Your mouth and teeth feel irritated or painful even when you’re not eating or otherwise using your teeth.
Severe pain when teeth are used. Beyond the constant pain, you also feel more severe pain if you put pressure on the area or eat.
Aching bone. If the bone around your tooth is achy or painful, it may mean that you have an impacted tooth, which would require root canal treatment.
Drainage. You may notice a discharge in your mouth. This is coming from the roots of your teeth.
Lingering hot and cold sensitivity. Many people experience sensitivity to hot and cold in their teeth. What separates root canal sensitivity is that most pain related to heat or cold goes away quickly after the stimuli is removed, but root canal sensitivity lingers.
Tooth darkening. If you have an infection in your pulp or roots, it can cause the affected teeth to turn a grayish-black color. This is one of the clearest signs you need a root canal.
Bumps. You may notice small bumps that look a bit like pimples on the gums where you are experiencing teeth pain.
Swelling gums. If your gums swell or feel sore, this is yet another indication that you may have an infection in the pulp of one or more of your teeth. Gums can also feel tender.
What Should You Do If You Have Root Canal Symptoms?
Hopefully the answer is pretty easy – contact your dentist!
Having signs of root canal problems does not necessarily mean that you will need to get a root canal, but the only way to know for sure is to have your dentist examine the area. Waiting is likely to make the problem worse.
Here’s what will happen.
- You’ll call your dental office and explain what’s going on. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, they might see you right away for an emergency appointment, or they might have you schedule a regular appointment in a few days or weeks.
- While you’re waiting, you can alleviate the pain and swelling by holding an ice pack to the outside of your jaw.
- At your appointment, the dentist will look at your tooth (or teeth) and take X-rays to properly diagnose the issue. Depending on the cause of your symptoms, the dentist may recommend a root canal, or they might suggest a different, less invasive treatment.
The bottom line is that signs and symptoms can only tell you so much. The only way you’ll know if you need a root canal for sure is if you get examined by a knowledgeable Florida dentist.