A root canal is a procedure used to treat an infection of the tooth and is usually necessary when the nerve of the tooth has been damaged or infected. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the signs that may indicate that a root canal is needed and do not seek treatment until the infection has become severe. Knowing the signs of an infection that may require a root canal can help you seek treatment as soon as possible and avoid any potential complications.
The most common sign that a root canal may be needed is prolonged and intense tooth pain. If the pain is localized to one particular tooth and does not subside with over-the-counter pain medications, then it is likely that the nerve of the tooth is infected. The pain may also be accompanied by swelling and tenderness in the gums near the affected tooth. In some cases, the pain may even radiate to other parts of the face or head.
Another sign that a root canal may be needed is discoloration of the tooth. If the tooth has taken on a gray, black, or yellow hue, then the nerve of the tooth may be dead or damaged and may require a root canal. Discoloration of the tooth may also occur if there is a crack or chip in the enamel, which can expose the nerve of the tooth to bacteria and cause an infection.
Infections can also cause the gums around the affected tooth to become swollen or tender. If the gums appear red, swollen, or painful to the touch, then this is a sign that an infection is present and a root canal may be required. It is also possible to have an infection in the tooth without experiencing any pain. This is known as a silent infection and usually requires a dental x-ray to detect it. If a dental x-ray reveals an infection in the tooth, then a root canal may be necessary.
Finally, a foul smell coming from the mouth may also be a sign that a root canal is needed. This is usually indicative of an infection that has spread to the pulp of the tooth and could require a root canal to treat.
If you are experiencing any of the above signs, it is important to visit your dentist or an endodontist as soon as possible. A root canal is a relatively simple procedure and can help to save a damaged or infected tooth from needing to be extracted. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to avoiding any potential complications that may arise from an untreated infection. To schedule an appointment, please contact our endodontic office today.