5 signs you may need a root canal

Sensitivity to hot or cold foods could be a sign you need a root canal.

If you need a root canal treatment, you'll almost certainly be experiencing pain and discomfort around the tooth in question. Discomfort could be continual, or initiated by certain foods or actions. The cause of your pain will be an infection or inflammation, and it may not be obvious that you have either until the pain sets in. 

Why is root canal treatment necessary?

Your problems begin if an infection reaches the pulp – the soft tissue inside the tooth.

Your problems begin if an infection reaches the pulp – the soft tissue inside the tooth. The pulp houses blood vessels and a nerve system which supply essential nutrients. Root canal treatment becomes necessary when the infection develops enough to start destroying the tissue around the root of the tooth, after the pulp dies.

The causes of inflammation or infection could include tooth decay or an injury to the tooth. An untreated infection will be painful and could lead to an abscess forming under the tooth. 

What are common root canal symptoms?

1. Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold – Most of us experience occasional sensitivity to hot or cold foods and or liquids. If you have discomfort long after the hot or cold item has been removed, you may have the first signs of an infection. At this stage it is likely that the infection is still in the pulp.

2. Discomfort or tenderness when touching or chewing – You may start experiencing discomfort when you eat, or when you touch the affected tooth. This symptom can occur in the earlier stages of infection when the pulp is affected, and then reappear if the infection spreads to the root.

3. Discolouration of the tooth – Discolouration is one of the more visually obvious symptoms of infection and if this occurs, the tooth will darken and turn grey. Discolouration can occur for a number of different reasons, though it's unlikely that you'll experience discolouration without any other symptoms, if a root canal infection is to blame.   

4. Pain and swelling in the gums – Pain and swelling together can indicate that the infection has reached the root. Swelling does not have to be extreme, but will likely last longer than on other occasions and will be localised to the tooth concerned.

5. A loose tooth – Looseness is a sign that the tooth has lost some form of support, for example, if the pulp recedes due to infection or an abscess destabilises the tooth. Alternatively, it could be a loose tooth that enables bacteria to form an infection in the first place. 

If the pulp is infected, you may need a root canal.A root canal becomes necessary when the pulp is infected.

What will the treatment involve?

In the past, the only option would have been to remove the affected tooth. A root canal treatment enables the original tooth to be treated. Following an x-ray to confirm the treatment required, the process involves replacing the infected pulp with artificial filling, to prevent any further infection.

After administering a local anaesthetic, the surgeon will drill into the tooth to clear the pulp, including the tissue at the root, to prepare a space for the filling. Your dentist will complete the treatment with a crown to protect the tooth and to enable you to use it properly. The tooth doesn't need the blood vessels and nerves contained in the pulp once it is fully grown.

Contact us today if you have any of the symptoms above, or any unusual pain or discomfort that concerns you. Book a check-up online or call City Dentists on 04 978 4964 for dental treatment at a time to suit you, with our early morning hours available five days a week and late evenings from Monday-Thursday.