A root canal is just another name for the nerve, or pulp, inside your tooth. The root canal procedure involves taking out the damaged or infected nerve and then sealing the tooth back up. The nerve of your tooth can get damaged or infected due to repeated dental procedures to the same tooth, trauma to the mouth area, or tooth decay. But how do you know when you need a root canal procedure?
Pain in your mouth is never a good thing, and when it’s an intense pain that lingers, that’s even worse. The pain could be coming from a single tooth or several teeth. You may experience pain from pressure such as biting or stimulus such as chewing. You may also experience extreme sensitivity to hot and cold if you need a root canal. When the nerve of the tooth is infected—and the nerve is where the feeling happens—chances are you need a root canal. The pain could range from mild to intense and may linger, even when you stop the action that caused it to start in the first place. At times the pain could be random and be so intense that it will wake you up in the middle of the night.
Swelling in your gums could be an indication that you need a root canal. The swelling could be slight or pronounced. Swelling could also indicate an abscess of the tooth—meaning the infection has extended to the tip of the tooth’s roots and is now extending into areas beyond and creating a pus-filled sac. Abscesses usually feel hard to the touch and are painful. The swelling could also be visible on the outside of your jaw or even extend down into your neck. This swelling could mean you need a root canal and should be evaluated by your dentist.
When one of your teeth or several of them begin to turn a different color from the rest of your teeth, you’ll probably feel alarmed. This is a good time to go and see your dentist because you may need a root canal. When there is a problem with the pulp of your tooth, it can cause the tooth to discolor and appear noticeably different from your other teeth. Your tooth doesn’t actually need its nerve to be healthy when you’re an adult, so removing this nerve and sealing the tooth may help with any discoloration you’re experiencing.
Although root canals have a reputation for being painful, the average patient reports little pain and it can be as simple as getting a cavity filled. Be aware of these top signs that you may need a root canal such as pain, swelling in the gums or face and neck area, and discolored teeth. These are not the symptoms of a healthy mouth and you should follow up with your dentist.