Although the root canal is arguably the most feared dental procedure of all, modern dentistry has rendered this common procedure virtually pain-free. The tooth roots and pulp are thoroughly cleaned of infection, and then the root chambers are sealed with a biocompatible material. A post may be inserted to support a crown, and the remaining tooth structure may be built up with a restorative material if needed. A root canal is the last option to save a tooth that would otherwise need extraction.
Some teeth that need root canals do not show any outward signs or symptoms. In most cases, though, people who need a root canal will experience some or all of these 3 very common signs.
Pain in the Tooth
Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong. Not all painful teeth need root canals, but most teeth that need root canals cause pain. The pain can range from annoying to severe, but it generally has a distinct, throbbing, “heartbeat” rhythm. You might notice pain only when brushing, chewing, or otherwise disturbing your tooth, or the pain might be continuous. It might change when standing up, lying down, or applying pressure to the tooth. Again, tooth pain does not necessarily signal that you need a root canal, but it always signals that something is wrong with the tooth, so make an appointment as soon as possible.
Swelling Around the Tooth
Dental swelling may be barely apparent, quite severe, or anything in between. You might have a tender, slightly raised spot along your gums, or your entire face and neck might swell. You might also experience fluid drainage from the affected area, which is likely to have a distinct bad taste. Even if there is no pain, you are likely to experience tenderness or soreness in the area that is swollen. Dental swelling is a sign of infection, which may require antibiotics to clear or may go away on its own. Swelling can be caused by other dental problems, but it is a common sign that a tooth needs a root canal.
Also known as dentin hypersensitivity, a sensitive tooth is a common problem that could have many different causes. New sensitivity, especially to hot and cold, may be the only clue that a tooth needs a root canal. You might experience only mild discomfort, or you might feel severe pain when drinking something with ice or biting into a hot pizza. Your dentist will locate the source of the pain and determine whether you need a root canal.
Modern Root Canal Treatment
Modern root canals are nothing to fear. Our compassionate chairside manner and cutting edge techniques ensure that you are comfortable throughout the procedure, as well as reducing healing time and minimizing bleeding. If you have any questions or fears, please tell us. We will work hard to make your experience as pleasant as possible.