Signs That You May Need Root Canal Therapy
Whether you have a persistent toothache or prolonged sensitivity, root canal symptoms can be incredibly painful. A root canal becomes necessary when the pulp, or innermost portion of the tooth, becomes infected or inflamed. During treatment, the endodontist can carefully remove compromised tissue, clean and shape the canals, and fill the space to restore its structural integrity. If you are experiencing signs of an infection, contact your doctor as soon as possible. A root canal can save your tooth from extraction.
The pulp of a tooth can become infected or inflamed due to deep decay, trauma, or repeated dental work. There are several indications of an infection.
The most common symptom of an infected tooth is pain. Pain can come in the form of sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, or a severe toothache prompted by actions like chewing or biting. The extent of pain can vary from patient to patient and may present itself consistently or intermittently. Sensations may be throbbing, dull, or sharp and they can affect an isolated area of the mouth or extend to larger stretches of the smile.
Pain can come in the form of sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, or a severe toothache when biting or chewing.
Keep in mind that dental pain can be caused by one of many conditions, so the best course of action is to consult a dentist if you are experiencing discomfort.
Swelling can also be a telltale sign of an infection. Nearby gums can swell and become tender. In some cases, inflammation can extend to the face and neck. At times, swelling may be accompanied by pain or a bad taste in the mouth.
An infected tooth may appear dark or discolored. However, you should also keep an eye out for yellow, white, or gray spots on a tooth, as these can be signs of decay. When left untreated, decay can spread to the pulp chamber.
Pimple on the Gums
When a tooth is infected, a pimple-like growth can form on the gums. The technical term for this growth is a sinus tract, but you may also hear it called a fistula. The appearance of this pimple signifies that an infection is draining, and it may be accompanied by a bad odor or taste.
Diagnosing an Infection
Sometimes, an infection presents with no symptoms at all. However, your dentist would be able to identify an infection using x-rays or other advanced images. Most dentists take periodic x-rays as part of routine dental care. These images allow the dentist to see beneath the gums to the dental roots and jawbone. A dark spot around the root of a tooth, known as a radiolucency, could be a sign that the root is damaged or infected. An x-ray may also reveal decay, which appears as a dark spot within the tooth.
When Should You Contact the Dentist?
If you are experiencing signs of an infection, you should contact your doctor immediately. Whether a tooth is infected and needs root canal treatment or simply has a small cavity, it will not heal on its own. In fact, postponing professional dental care will only allow the condition to worsen, which could result in the need for more invasive and costly solutions. Seek a dentist’s advice early, and attend biannual checkups and cleanings to ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy.