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Do You Need a Root Canal? 7 Telltale Symptoms

Family and Cosmetic Dentist Located in Brooklyn, NY

Sometimes toothache is more than just a toothache. It can be a sign of an infected dental pulp that cannot be treated with over-the-counter medications or home treatments. Visit Broadway Family Dental for expert dental advice and get permanent relief from your tooth pain. Dr. Ella Dekhtyar thoroughly examines your teeth and gums and evaluates your symptoms to find the causes behind your pain. She focuses on preserving your natural tooth with a root canal and crown and helps you take good care of your teeth so you can enjoy stronger teeth and optimal oral health for years.

Deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, cracks or chips in the tooth, or trauma can lead to toothache. If you don’t seek professional advice and address the problem before it advances, you may end up with an infected tooth and a potential root canal.

When the pulp or the soft tissue inside the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels becomes inflamed or infected, due to any reason, you need a root canal. An untreated infected tooth can lead to severe pain and even abscess formation.

If you have persistent tooth pain or other symptoms, see your dentist, as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure that helps to save a severely damaged or infected tooth. It involves removing the infected pulp, cleaning the inside of the decayed tooth, and preserving the infected tooth.

A root canal is actually a fairly common and straightforward procedure routinely performed by dentists. It is the most effective way to treat the pain caused by decay or infection in the tooth pulp and prevent infection from returning or spreading to adjoining teeth. It is the preferred treatment for dental problems that, in the past, would have led to a losing tooth.

During a root canal procedure, your dentist will:

  • Extract bacteria and decay from the tooth pulp, root, and nerve
  • Disinfect the area with antibiotics
  • Fill the empty roots
  • Seal the area to prevent new decay

The root canal treatment leaves your natural tooth in place and prevents further decay. However, the infection and damage make the tooth more fragile. Your dentist may cover your tooth with a crown to protect it from further infection.

The only way to find out if you really need a root canal is by having your tooth examined by a dentist, but there are several warning signs you should not ignore.

Symptoms That Indicate You May Need a Root Canal

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is essential to see your dentist as soon as possible. Timely treatment can save you from intense pain and severe dental damage.

1. Persistent Pain

Strong, persistent pain is one of the main warning signs that something is wrong with the root of your tooth and you need professional care. It may bother you all the time, or it may go away for some time but always return.

You may feel the pain deep in the bone or to the root of your tooth, radiating to other parts of the face, jaw, or nearby teeth. This type of pain seldom goes away on its own. If you are having trouble performing normal activities such as biting, eating, or drinking, see your dentist as soon as possible.

The dentist will examine your aching tooth to determine the problem and if needed, recommend a root canal treatment to help you feel better.

2. Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitivity to heat and cold is another common sign you may need a root canal. If your tooth hurts when you drink hot drinks such as tea or coffee or feels sensitive when you eat ice cream or drink an icy cold glass of water, it may indicate a problem with your tooth root.

What starts as a dull ache can progress into intense, sharp pain, affecting your ability to eat or drink easily. The pain lingers for a long time, even when you stop eating or drinking. This type of sensitivity and pain is an indication that the blood vessels and nerves in your tooth are infected or damaged, and you need a root canal to fix the problem.

Cold foods and drinks can also cause pain for people with an infected tooth. It is best to consult a dentist and have your teeth examined to determine the causes behind your pain and sensitivity.

3. Tooth Discoloration

A discolored tooth is usually the result of poor oral hygiene, exposure to foods and drinks that stain tooth enamel, or nerve damage beneath the tooth’s surface. An infection in the pulp of your tooth can also cause your tooth to become discolored.

Trauma to the tooth or breakdown of the internal tissue can damage the root and give the tooth a grayish-black color. This discoloration is easier to see in a front tooth. Tooth pulp can die when there is a lack of blood supply, which indicates a need for a root canal.

If you notice that a tooth is changing color, it is good to see your dentist for necessary treatment.

4. Swollen Gums

Swollen gums near painful teeth indicate you may need a root canal. While the swelling may come and go, the affected area may be tender to touch, or even numb to pain. Sometimes swelling may spread beyond the gums to other areas of the face and neck.

Swelling is caused by acidic waste products of dead pulp tissues outside the root tip area. You may also have a little pimple on your gum. It is called a gum boil or abscess. The pimple may ooze pus from the infected tooth, which gives an unpleasant taste in the mouth and makes your breath smell bad.

5. Pain When You Eat or Touch the Tooth

If your tooth hurts when you eat and try to chew or touch it, it could be a sign of severe tooth decay or nerve damage that can only be treated with a root canal. Even simple tasks like brushing, eating, and touching your teeth become painful if the tooth pulp dies as the ligaments become hypersensitive.

The waste products from the dying pulp could irritate the ligaments, resulting in pain from biting pressure. The persistent pain and sensitivity that does not go away even when you stop eating indicates deeper damage.

6. A Chipped or Cracked Tooth

If you have chipped or cracked your tooth in an accident, during sports, or by chewing something hard, bacteria can set in and lead to inflammation and infection. Even the tiniest chip or hairline crack in your tooth can expose the nerves beneath the surface of the tooth and cause an infection.

An injury can also damage the nerves of the tooth, which in turn become inflamed and cause pain and sensitivity, requiring a root canal treatment.

7. Tooth Mobility

Wobbly teeth in adults indicate an infection, and it should be checked by a dentist promptly. When a tooth is infected, it feels looser as the acidic waste products from nerve death can soften the bone around the root of a drying root, causing mobility.

Remember, these symptoms don’t always guarantee that you need a root canal. Only a dentist can make an accurate diagnose after thorough examination and dental X-rays. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek dental help right away. Timely care helps to prevent further damage and saves you from expensive treatments.

Symptoms That Indicate You May Need a Root Canal

Does a Root Canal Hurt?

Thanks to modern dentistry, a root canal is no longer a painful procedure. It is similar to getting a large filling, but it takes longer. The dentist will clean out the decay, disinfect the roots, and then fill them in. You will not feel any pain as the dentist will use local anesthesia to numb your tooth and gums so you stay comfortable during the procedure.

If you have facial swelling or a fever due to infection, the dentist will give you antibiotics beforehand to kill the infection. It also reduces the pain and helps you go through the procedure without any discomfort.

Your mouth may feel sore or tender after the root canal. The dentist will recommend an over-the-counter pain medication to keep the pain or swelling down. Almost all people feel better shortly after treatment.

How to Prevent a Root Canal?

The need for a root canal arises after tooth decay or injury. You can prevent a root canal by developing dental hygiene habits that help prevent cavities and other tooth problems.

Maintain optimal oral health by following the dentist’s recommended steps:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Floss between your teeth at least once a day
  • Use fluoride toothpaste or a fluoride rinse
  • See your dentist for checkups every 6 months
  • Have your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist at least once a year
  • Try to limit the amount of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates you eat

Your oral health is important. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, issues can arise that require professional intervention. Don’t hesitate to call your dentist if you experience any dental complaints.

Is It Possible to Have Pain in Your Tooth after a Root Canal?

Yes. You can have pain in a tooth that had a root canal treatment.

Some causes of this pain may be due to:

  • Your root canal has not healed properly
  • Your root canal was not entirely disinfected because of complicated root anatomy
  • New decay has infected the root canal filling material, causing a new infection
  • A tooth injury that has led to new decay

Dentists believe that retreatment or another root canal is the best option to treat this pain and any other symptoms.

If you are unsure whether you need a root canal or have concerns about your teeth and gums, call Broadway Family Dental and schedule an appointment with our board-certified dentist. Dr. Ella Dekhtyar examines your teeth and gum thoroughly and looks for signs of infection and decay to determine if you need a root canal treatment. She provides the best guidance and the most appropriate dental care using the latest cutting-edge technology and treatment. Dr. Dekhtyar has performed countless root canals for her patients and ensures you enjoy healthier, more beautiful smile for years.

Page Updated on Apr 9, 2024 by Dr. Dekhtyar (Dentist) of Broadway Family Dental

Broadway Family Dental
1152 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11221
(Bushwick, Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant)
(718) 455-4400

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