Signs You Need a Root Canal: Everything You Need to Know
As much as we try to take care of our teeth and keep them healthy, sometimes dental issues arise.
One such issue is the need for a root canal. Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp, the innermost part of a tooth, becomes inflamed or infected.
This can happen due to a number of reasons, such as tooth decay, a cracked or broken tooth, or even trauma to the face.
You may need a root canal if you’re experiencing any of the following signs.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure that involves removing the infected or inflamed pulp from the innermost part of a tooth.
The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue, and when it becomes damaged or infected, it can cause pain, sensitivity, and other dental problems.
A root canal is often the best way to save the tooth and prevent further damage or infection.
How do you know if you need a root canal?
Several signs may indicate the need for a root canal.
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, seeing your dentist in Fayetteville, NC, as soon as possible is important to determine the best course of action.
Pain or sensitivity to hot and cold
One of the most common signs you may need a root canal is pain or sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.
If you experience sharp pain or a lingering ache when you drink hot or cold beverages or eat hot or cold foods, it could be a sign that the pulp in your tooth is damaged or infected.
Pain when biting or chewing
Another common sign of a damaged or infected tooth is a pain when you bite or chew.
If you feel pain or discomfort when you apply pressure to a particular tooth, it could be a sign that the pulp is inflamed or infected.
Swollen or tender gums
In addition to pain or sensitivity in the affected tooth, you may experience swelling or tenderness in the gums surrounding the tooth.
This is often a sign of infection and should be addressed by a dentist as soon as possible.
Discolored or darkened teeth
If one or more of your teeth have become discolored or darkened, it could be a sign that the pulp has been damaged or infected.
The breakdown of the pulp tissue may cause this discoloration and can be a sign that a root canal is necessary.
Pus or drainage from the affected tooth
If you notice pus or drainage coming from the affected tooth, it’s important to seek dental care immediately.
This is often a sign of a serious infection and may require immediate treatment to prevent further complications.
If you’re experiencing loose teeth, it could be a sign of advanced tooth decay or other dental issues.
In some cases, a root canal may be necessary to save the affected tooth and prevent further damage.
How is a root canal performed?
During a root canal procedure, your dentist will remove the infected or inflamed pulp from the innermost part of the tooth.
The tooth will then be cleaned, disinfected, and sealed to prevent infection. Sometimes, a crown or filling may be necessary to restore the tooth’s strength and function.
Root canals are typically performed under local anesthesia so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure.
Your dentist may also prescribe pain medication or antibiotics to help manage any discomfort or infection after the procedure.
Aftercare and recovery
After a root canal procedure, taking care of the affected tooth and surrounding area is important to prevent further complications.
Your dentist will provide you with specific aftercare instructions, but here are some general tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid chewing or biting with the affected tooth until it’s fully restored.
- Brush and floss regularly to keep the area clean and prevent infection.
- Avoid hard or crunchy foods that may damage the tooth or filling.
- Follow any medication or pain management instructions provided by your dentist.
Most people can return to normal activities within a day or two after a root canal procedure, although the tooth may take a few days to heal fully.
Complications and risks
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks and potential complications associated with root canal treatment.
These may include:
- Nerve damage
- Swelling or bruising
- Pain or discomfort
- Failure of the procedure
However, these risks are relatively rare, and most people experience a successful outcome after a root canal procedure.
Prevention is key
The best way to avoid needing a root canal is to take good care of your teeth and gums.
- Brushing and flossing regularly
- Seeing your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings
- Avoiding sugary and acidic foods and drinks
- Wearing a mouthguard during sports and other high-impact activities
By practicing good oral hygiene and taking precautions to protect your teeth, you can reduce your risk of developing dental problems that may require a root canal.
Root canal vs. extraction
In some cases, a root canal may be ineffective, and the affected tooth may need to be extracted.
Your dentist will help you determine the best course of action based on your individual situation.
While losing a tooth can be a difficult experience, there are many options for restoring your smile and maintaining good oral health, including dental implants, bridges, and dentures.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a root canal painful?
Root canals are typically performed under local anesthesia, so you shouldn’t feel any pain during the procedure.
Some people may experience mild discomfort or sensitivity afterward, but this can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.
How long does a root canal take?
The length of a root canal procedure can vary depending on the extent of the infection and the complexity of the tooth’s root system.
Most root canals take between 1-2 hours to complete.
Can I eat after a root canal?
You should avoid eating or drinking until the local anesthesia has worn off to prevent accidentally biting your tongue or cheek.
After that, you can resume your normal diet by avoiding hard or crunchy foods that may damage the tooth or filling.
What happens if I don’t get a root canal?
If you have an infected or damaged tooth and don’t get a root canal, the infection can spread to other teeth or even your bloodstream, causing more serious health problems.
In some cases, the tooth may eventually need to be extracted.
Can a root canal fail?
While root canals are generally very successful, there is a small risk of the procedure failing if the tooth becomes re-infected or the filling or crown becomes damaged.
If this happens, your dentist may recommend further treatment or tooth extraction.
If you’re experiencing pain, sensitivity, swelling, or other symptoms related to your teeth, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible.
A root canal may be necessary to save an infected or damaged tooth and prevent further complications.
By practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly, you can reduce your risk of developing dental problems that may require a root canal.
And if you do need a root canal, remember that the procedure is relatively painless and can help save your tooth and restore your oral health.
Ready to schedule a root canal appointment? Contact us today to book your consultation and get the care you need for a healthy, pain-free smile.
We are located in Fayetteville, NC, and proudly offer our professional services in the following areas; Hope Mills, Fort Bragg, Sanford, Lumberton, Spring Lake, Raeford, and Southern Pines, NC.