5 Common Signs You Need a Root Canal

signs you need a root canal

Most people would suggest visiting the dentist every 6 months, except those who are especially at risk, such as pregnant women, diabetics, and those with compromised immune systems.  These people should visit more often, if possible.

A lot can happen in six months, though, so we can sometimes get bad news at the dentist's office. Some of us are prone to cavities, others have gum disease, and others may need a root canal.

A root canal is a dental surgery commonly performed to repair and protect a damaged or infected tooth.

It's always best to see a dentist if you think you might need a root canal. However, some symptoms may serve as signs you need a root canal. We'll talk about a few of them in this article.

1. Pain

One of the most common signs of infection in the body is pain, and teeth are no exception. Infections can be especially painful when they happen in our teeth.

Teeth have the unique disadvantage of being exposed to the environment. If the tooth decays enough, it can leave the nerve unprotected, which can be agonizing. There's a reason being extremely irritating is called 'striking a nerve.'

This isn't the case for all nerves, though. Our bodies contain three different types of nerves, each with different purposes. Motor nerves are responsible for helping us move, and the symptoms of motor nerve damage often cause weakness or difficulty functioning in the affected area.

Autonomic nerves deal with basic functions such as feeling pain, keeping our bodies cool, and getting rid of waste. When these nerves are damaged, our ability to perform those functions may suffer. Though autonomic nerves are responsible for certain types of pain, you may lose sensation when they're damaged.

The third type of nerve is a sensory nerve. Sensory nerves are crucial in being able to physically feel things in our skin and other parts of our bodies.

Sensory nerve damage can cause loss of sensation, but can also cause intense pain. These are the nerves that happen to be in our teeth.

2. Discoloration

Once a tooth is damaged, the blood supply to that tooth can be cut off. Without blood to supply nutrients to the tooth, it may turn yellow, gray, or even black.

During a root canal the dentist will take out the nerves and dead cells to prevent further infection.

Lack of blood, and the oxygen it carries, affects all parts of the body similarly. Individuals whose blood is low in oxygen often have a darker, bluish tint to their skin. This is known as cyanosis.

However, teeth are different in one major way when it comes to their blood supply. If you lose oxygen to another part of your body, such as your arm, you will notice cyanosis very quickly. Meanwhile, a tooth can get damaged and not show discoloration for weeks, or even months.

3. Visible Damage to Tooth

The first sign that you need a root canal may be visible tooth damage. Teeth can get cracked or even lose tiny bits due to damage.

This can happen in a lot of different ways. Some people have sensitive teeth that suffer damage in response to tougher foods, such as ice.

On a related note, if you are craving and eating ice, you should see your doctor. That's often a sign of an iron deficiency. Iron deficiencies aren't serious, but you're still better off treating than ignoring them.

Athletes are also prone to damaged teeth, especially those in contact sports. 

4. Swollen Gums and White Spots

You may notice issues with your gums before you see problems with the tooth itself.  When a tooth becomes damaged, an infection may occur. However, it may be the gum rather than the tooth that becomes infected.

Infections will often cause swollen gums. They may even turn darker. Both of these are often the result of inflammation. A few spots in the gums may be particularly swollen and jut out a bit further than the others.

If you notice a particularly large, slightly white spot on your gums, make an appointment with your dentist. It might be an abscess. There is an infection in your gums, and you're going to need to see a specialist soon to ensure that it doesn't spread.

Abscesses in gums often start as tooth infections. If they go unnoticed for too long, the infection can spread. This is why abscesses can be one of the biggest signs you need a root canal.

5. Teeth Sensitivity

Do you have sudden sharp pains in your tooth? Do they usually come on after eating something hot or cold? This can be a sign of dental infection, and that you need a root canal.

The most telling factor is how long the pain lasts. Most sensitivity pain goes away quickly, but if the pain lasts a while, you'll want to go to the dentist. The cause is not always an infection, but it usually is a sign of something wrong.

You may be using mouthwash too often, or not taking care of your teeth well enough. Whatever the reason, you're better off knowing.

Signs You Need a Root Canal

There are several different signs you need a root canal. We've talked about many of them in this article, but there are a few others. You may want to do more research if you're interested in dental care.

You could also visit our site, where you'll find tons of information on various aspects of dentistry. If you live in the New Jersey area and need a dentist, feel free to contact us.

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