Tooth Pain? 5 Signs You May Need a Root Canal

Do you need a root canal?

What Your Toothache May Be Telling You

Toothaches can range from mildly annoying to severely debilitating, but what remains consistent is that they’re the body’s way of signaling that something isn’t quite right. While not all toothaches require root canal therapy, this treatment option stands out as a common solution to alleviate severe pain and preserve natural teeth for as long as possible.

Contrary to popular myths, root canal treatments are not the harbingers of pain. They actually provide relief for toothaches caused by infection or nerve damage. This treatment meticulously removes the infected pulp from within the tooth, eliminating the real source of pain. Once treatment is complete, the tooth usually needs a crown (particularly if it’s a back tooth) to protect it from future damage. Root canals effectively save severely decayed or damaged teeth from the fate of extraction.

With that in mind, let’s explore 5 red flags that your tooth may need the power of root canal therapy to get you back to a pain-free smile.

1. Persistent Tooth Pain

Ongoing tooth pain is a distress signal from your body that something is wrong deep within your tooth. This type of pain can range from a dull ache to sharp, intense discomfort, especially when applying pressure or eating.

When decay penetrates through the outer layers of enamel and dentin and into the inner pulp, it affects the nerves and blood vessels, resulting in severe pain. At this stage, a root canal becomes necessary to remove the decayed pulp, alleviate the pain, and ultimately save the tooth from extraction. It will also prevent the spread of infection to surrounding teeth.

2. Sensitivity to Hot or Cold

Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages is more than an annoyance. This symptom indicates that the nerves and blood vessels inside your tooth may be exposed or damaged due to deep decay or cracks. When the protective layers of a tooth are compromised, temperature extremes can directly affect the nerves, leading to sharp, transient pain or a lingering ache.

A root canal removes the affected pulp, thus alleviating the pain and restoring the tooth’s integrity so you can enjoy a varied diet without fear of taking a bite or sip of your favorite food or beverage.

3. Swollen Gums

Swollen gums almost always signify an infection, particularly when associated with pain in or around a tooth. The swelling is often a byproduct of an abscess, which makes the tissue feel tender or warm to the touch. If you notice your gums beginning to swell, especially if it is accompanied by severe pain, a root canal may be necessary to remove the infected tissue and relieve the swelling.

It’s crucial to understand that if you’re experiencing severe facial or oral swelling and a fever, you should seek emergency dental care immediately. An abscess or other infection requires urgent treatment to prevent the bacteria from spreading further into your body.

4. Discoloration of the Tooth

Discoloration of a tooth, particularly a darkening to gray or black, can indicate internal damage or infection. This color change is often the result of the death of the tooth’s nerve, which can be due to trauma or deep decay. Unlike external stains from food, beverages, or smoking, internal discoloration is a serious matter that requires a professional dental evaluation.

A root canal may be necessary to remove the dead or infected tissue inside the tooth, restoring its health and preventing further complications. A dental crown will then cover the tooth, returning to it a beautiful, natural-looking finish.

5. Pain When Biting or Chewing

Pain when biting or chewing is a symptom that suggests that the pulp inside the tooth is inflamed or infected. Inflammation can create pressure inside the tooth as you bite down, leading to pain. This symptom can be caused by deep decay, a loose filling, or even a cracked tooth, all of which may require a root canal to fix. 

It is crucial to address this pain early, as delaying treatment could lead to further damage and cause the tooth to become nonrestorable.

Don’t wait another day to put a stop to your tooth pain!

If you’ve been putting up with tooth pain or sensitivity, seek professional care right away. Parmer Lane Family Dentistry is ready to provide comprehensive support, prioritizing your dental health and comfort. Our dedicated team, led by Dr. Lucinda Garcia, always uses the latest technologies and techniques available to ensure you receive the highest standard of care.

Whether you need a routine checkup or are facing a dental emergency, we’re your trusted partners for exceptional dentistry in Austin. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and take the first step toward a healthier, pain-free smile.

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