5 Signs You Need a Root Canal By Julie K on November 20, 2017

We all know that horrible feeling. You've got a delicious meal in front of you, you take a bite, and out of nowhere- you feel it.

A searing pain in one of your teeth. But what does it mean?

If you're experiencing some dental discomfort and you're worried that you may need a root canal, don't panic. There are some sure-fire signs to look out for that can take you out of the dark and help you to know what kind of assistance you may need.

Keep reading to learn more and for five signs you need a root canal. Let's get started!

What Is a Root Canal?

Did you know that a root canal is both a dental procedure and a part of the tooth's anatomy? It's true!

This term is used to describe the area of the tooth between the pulp and roots which contains blood vessels and nerves. It's also used to describe the procedure when a dental professional removes an infected or dead area of the tooth.

What Causes Root Canal Pain?

There are a few common causes of root canal pain. Stay in the know to protect yourself from needing to go through any unnecessary dental procedures in the future.

Repeated Procedures

Having repeat dental procedures in the same area of a tooth can cause root canal pain and decay. Avoid any repeat procedures when possible.


Have you ever chipped or cracked a tooth? This could be the cause of your tooth canal pain. Bacteria can enter the inner part of the tooth through these damaged areas.


If one of your teeth has decay that reaches past its outer enamel, this can cause pain in the root canal. Harmful bacteria love tooth decay!

What Are The Signs You Need a Root Canal Procedure?

Now that we've learned a bit more about what they are and why they happen, let's dive into the five signs you need a root canal procedure.

1. Serious Tooth Pain

If you're experiencing some serious pain while eating or applying any kind of pressure to your tooth, that's one of the sure-fire signs you need a root canal as soon as possible. So be sure not to ignore that horrid pain while you bite down on your next snack.

That being said, not every type of pain is indicative of infection. If a root canal is truly necessary, your pain level will be very high. Be sure to consult a professional if you are experiencing serious tooth pain.

Remember- your dentist knows best!

2. Tooth Sensitivity

If your tooth feels sensitive after being exposed to hot or cold foods or drinks, consider it a red flag. Although there are many reasons for tooth sensitivity, it can definitely be a sign of infection.

The key distinction is prolonged sensitivity. If you feel that strange sensation after exposure and it lingers on and on, get yourself to the dentist stat!

3. Bumps on Your Gums

If you're worried that you may have an infection, check your gums for tiny bumps. If you see anything that looks like a pimple around the achy tooth, this is one of the signs you need a root canal.

However, if you do have an infection, you may not necessarily have these bumps! If you find that you are experiencing a combination of any of these other signs and symptoms, you should still make an appointment at a local location for general dentistry.

4. Discoloration of the Tooth

Sometimes the infection and dead matter inside of a tooth can cause a darkening of its color. Dead matter inside of a tooth can be the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

If you find that your tooth is becoming darker, even if you aren't experiencing discomfort, you should have it checked by a dental professional immediately. It's better to be safe than sorry!

5. Gum Swelling

Swelling of the gums is another one of the signs you need a root canal. This swelling may be accompanied by a sensation of tenderness as well.

And when these symptoms are combined with others on this list, they're a definite red flag.

If you are experiencing intense swelling, sensitivity, and unbearable pain, seek out an emergency dentist as soon as possible.

What to Expect from a Root Canal Procedure

If you suspect that you may need a root canal procedure or you're scheduled for one, here's what you can expect once you're in the dentist's chair.


First, your dentist will take an x-ray. This will help them to determine how bad the infection is and where exactly it has reached inside the tooth.


Once you're ready for the procedure, the dentist will provide you with a local anesthetic. This will ensure that the area is numb and control your dental pain. They will also place a rubber sheet around your tooth to make sure it's dry.

Drill, Baby, Drill!

Now it's time to get down to business. Don't feel nervous, the anesthetic will prevent you from feeling a thing.

Your dental associate will begin by drilling a small hole in your tooth through which they can access the inside area which is infected and decaying. They will then remove this unwanted material by using files and water irrigation.

Finishing Touches

Once your tooth is all cleaned out, the dentist will seal up the hole. If they don't seal it on the same day, they will temporarily fill it to protect you from any pain in the meantime.

When the canal is filled properly, the professional will use a rubber compound to fill the canal and seal the hole after.

Wrapping Up

If you're experiencing severe tooth pain, sensitivity or discoloration, or gum swelling and bumps, act now. Leaving the infection alone will only make it worse!

Don't ignore the signs you need a root canal. Be sure to follow up with a dental associate as soon as possible.

Do you have any questions, or would you like to know more about our services? Feel free to give us a call or check out our new patient information.

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