7 Signs to Get a Root Canal Treatment

Female patients with toothache in the hospital room. To get a root canal treatment.

You‘ve probably heard the term “root canal” many times before. One of the main things people often expect when they intend to get a root canal is an immense pain associated with it.

There is a degree of pain when having a root canal, but all patients receive local anaesthesia to numb the area worked on. An experienced dentist will help their patient feel as comfortable as possible. It is a long procedure but it will save you from the terrible pain if you have not received treatment.

Technology and advancements in oral care make it possible for patients to receive some of the best dental treatment. This includes speedy recovery. Using statistics from Science Daily, we learn that more than 15 million root canal treatments are completed every year in America.

How Do You Know When to Get a Root Canal Treatment?

After a consultation, your dentist will decide whether your tooth is salvageable with root canal treatment. They will also be able to see whether you only need a filling and that the cavity isn’t too deep.

Here are some signs to find out when you should get a root canal treatment:

  1. You Have a Cracked Tooth and You’re Experiencing Pain

    Cracked teeth are one of the major problems that could lead to tooth decay and infection. Teeth can become damaged when eating hard foods or enduring damage in an accident. The fractured, cracked or chipped tooth will hurt and cause discomfort. When pain persists, it may be time to get a root canal.

  2. Extreme Tooth Sensitivity

    Tooth sensitivity is common among most people. This is when patients feel a sudden pain in their mouth around the teeth area in reaction to cold or hot foods and drinks. This pain can sometimes be intense or sometimes just a dull aching sensation.

    If tooth sensitivity persists despite using special toothpaste then you may need root canal treatment. There may be damage to the nerves of the tooth which is causing the pain to persist.

  3. Swollen Gums

    The tooth with an infection or decay can result in swelling gums. Inflammation is the body’s way of dealing with infections and or injuries. When the gums are swollen, it makes it difficult and uncomfortable to eat, drink, or brush and floss the teeth.

    Swelling gums may occur due to the infected pulp secreting waste matter. Sometimes it will also seem as if the section close to the infected tooth has a gum boil or a pimple. Root canal treatment will help clean the infected tooth and prevent abscess and swelling.

  4. Tooth Discolouration

    One of the major signs to get a root canal treatment is when a tooth becomes discoloured. The tooth becomes discoloured when the nerve is infected, damaged or “dying”. Oftentimes the tooth can turn light to dark grey. Oftentimes, the tooth can even turn a darker charcoal colour.

    Patients with discoloured teeth due to damaged or dying nerves will also experience constant bad breath, a sense of bad taste in their mouth and swelling gums as well.

  5. Experiencing Pain Each Time You Eat

    Experiencing pain anytime and all the time when eating could indicate that the nerves are exposed or damaged. This can also happen if a patient has damaged fillings or a crown has fallen out, exposing the cavity and nerve.

  6. Deep Decay

    When the tooth is badly decayed that it affects the nerves, this is very painful. This is called “deep decay”. The difference between deep decay and a cavity is that a cavity is a shallow hole in the teeth that can be mended with a filling. But, deep decay affects the roots and nerves of the tooth.

    This can lead to infection and bacteria getting into the nerves and the pulp of the tooth. To prevent tooth loss, the dentist may suggest a root canal.

  7. An Abscess

    A gum abscess is dangerous and can contaminate the blood if not treated. Similar to a pimple, a gum abscess is a “pocket of pus” that would usually occur on the gum or deep inside the tooth past the root canals.

    The abscess is caused by an infection, resulting in the need for antibiotics and immediate dental treatment.

    gum abscess is a sign to get a root canal treatment

    Source: Nhia Moua on Unsplash

What Happens During a Root Canal Treatment?

Since your dentist is skilled in endodontics (treatment of infected dental pulp) aka root canal treatment, you’re in good hands with them.

The dentist will take x-rays to assess the true damage of the tooth infected. After the x-rays, the doctor will explain the procedure to the patient.

After anaesthetic and the area to treat is numb, the dentist will remove the nerves and pulp of the tooth. They do this by drilling a small hole into the tooth and through the roots. The damaged or infected pulp and nerves are removed. This requires precision instruments and skills.

After cleaning it out, the dentist may need to smooth out the new opening in the tooth so that the filling can fit.

Once this process is finished, the dentist fills the hole with a special filling or completes it with a crown.

The recovery time after receiving a root canal treatment is usually very quick. It only takes a few days before the tooth is completely better. Some patients may experience swelling post- root canal treatment, but anti-inflammatory medicine can help with pain and swelling.

Can I Have Problems After My Root Canal?

Even though most root canal treatments are 100% successful, problems can occur. This can result in another visit to the dentist to repair the procedure.

Here are some of the problems or complications that could occur and lead to an “unsuccessful” root canal:

  • Poor oral care at home – Poor oral hygiene by the patient after the treatment can cause complications
  • Dental sealants/materials defective – The material used to close off the tooth starts breaking down
  • Teeth anatomy (possibility 1) – The tooth’s root canal isn’t straight which may lead to an inability to clean it properly
  • Teeth anatomy (possibility 2) – Many root canals in the tooth aren’t always visible and these may contain infected pulp and roots

Duration of a Root Canal Treatment:

Senior woman hugging her daughter from the back

The process takes about an hour to complete. If an infection or abscess occurs after the treatment, then the patient might have to go back for a second and third treatment.

Sometimes the dentist might fill the tooth with a temporary filling and complete the permanent restoration in the second visit. Your dentist will advise.

Root canal treated teeth tend to be more brittle and the dentist would usually secure it with a crown, especially when it’s a molar.

If you suspect that you need to get a root canal treatment, you may book an appointment with us to get yourself treated.