Ah, the dreaded root canal. While visiting the dentist is never a great time, it can be crucial to keeping up with your oral health, for both medical and aesthetic reasons. If you’ve been wondering if you’re in need of a root canal for any damage or decay, you can explore the signs below to see if you may need one:
You have a toothache that starts in the bone – Also known as an abscessed tooth, the toothache pain that begins in your jawbone can be intense. An abscessed tooth is primarily caused by tooth decay, which is when bacteria infects the dental pulp that makes up the inner tooth. Once this pulp becomes infected, a root canal is the only way to remove the diseased pulp. However, jaw pain can be caused by things like grinding your teeth, an injury, or even TMJ. It’s best to speak to a dentist to see if a root canal is necessary.
You have a tooth that is darkly discolored – A discolored tooth is another sign that your dental pulp is infected. Even if you don’t notice any pain emanating from your discolored tooth, you can be pretty sure that a dark color means dead dental pulp. Dental pulp in your tooth dies when it doesn’t have a sufficient blood flow. However, tooth discoloration can be caused by many things, so it’s best to get a dentist to check it out.
You have temperature sensitivity – Whether or not your coffee is steaming hot or your tea is ice cold, if you notice a lingering sensitivity, it might be time for a root canal. You might just feel an aching sensation or something like a sharp pain when eating hot food or drinking cold beverages. This could mean that the nerves or blood vessels inside of your tooth are becoming damaged.
More severe tooth decay – If you’ve let a cavity sit for quite a while, you should expect to need a root canal at some point in the future. Root canals are typically given to patients that have more severe tooth decay than just your run of the mill cavity. If you’ve noticed a hole appearing on one of your teeth and haven’t been to the dentist in a while, it may be time for a root canal. The dentist will remove the infected or dead dental pulp from your cavity. Then if the tooth is infected, an antibiotic medication may be injected in the tooth to kill any remaining bacteria. Once that is complete, the dentist will fill the cavity back up with a porcelain or resin mixture to give the appearance of a natural tooth.
You’ve got a cracked or chipped tooth – While a chipped or cracked tooth is commonly just an aesthetic issue, it can leave your dental pulp open to becoming infected with bacteria. If the pulp is left exposed for a significant amount of time, bacteria from your saliva and plaque will make its way in and could lead to pain, swelling, and infection. Even if you don’t completely chip or crack your tooth, have a tooth hit really hard during a game of flag football may warrant a root canal, seeing as the impact could cause inflammation of the injured tooth, leading to infection.
While the idea of getting a root canal may strike fear into your heart, an experienced dentist will be able to put your mind at ease and make the procedure as comfortable as possible for you.