Inside each of your teeth is a chamber with many nerves. The pulp of your tooth also sits inside this chamber. The term root canal comes from the fact that the pulp inside each tooth contains a canal that connects the inside portion of the tooth to the root. Canals located inside each tooth help to transport blood and nutrients to the root while also helping to remove toxins.
You normally wouldn’t give this process much thought. However, that can change when the canal portion of your tooth sustains damage due to a deep cavity, disease, infection, fracture, or trauma. Regardless of the cause of the damage, it can lead to pain and pressure in the tooth. The pulp of the tooth will eventually die without treatment. When that happens, you can lose bone, gum tissue, or even require extraction of the whole tooth. Fortunately, a root canal can prevent these issues from developing in the first place.
Most Common Indications You Could Need a Root Canal
Tooth pain is just one indication that something is amiss with your oral health. It’s important to pay attention to changes and to report them to Dr. Andrew Nguyen at Blue Wave Smiles as soon as possible. He will conduct a thorough examination before determining if you need a root canal or another type of treatment. Here are some signs that you could have an infection requiring prompt evaluation and treatment:
- Cracked or chipped tooth: If you previously chipped or cracked your tooth, it makes it easier for bacteria to get into the space and cause an infection and inflammation. An injury that doesn’t result in a chip or crack to the tooth can still damage nerves. When they become inflamed, it causes pain and sensitivity that can require a root canal to repair.
- Hot and cold sensitivity: Sometimes the pain only appears when you eat hot foods or drink something cold. It might linger long after you finish eating or drinking or go away on its own. In either case, it’s a sign that something is wrong and you need to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Nguyen.
- Loose teeth: Infection in a tooth can make it feel loose. This is also due to acidic waste products from diseased pulp within the tooth.
- Pain when chewing or touching the tooth: Common causes of this problem include nerve damage and tooth decay. It’s most likely to be an infection if the discomfort doesn’t go away after you stop eating or touching the tooth.
- Persistent pain: You may experience intermittent or chronic pain if you need a root canal. It always returns without treatment, however. The pain may be deep within your jaw, face, other teeth, or within the bone of the tooth. Keep in mind that tooth pain could also indicate a different oral health issue such as gum disease, tooth decay, or a filling that requires replacement.
- Swollen gums: When the gums surrounding the infected tooth appear swollen, it could be a sign of infection. Like other symptoms, you may find that the swelling comes and goes. It will typically feel tender to the touch. The swelling is a result of acidic waste coming from the dead tooth pulp.
- Tooth discoloration: When the pulp deep within your tooth becomes infected, it can cause the affected tooth to appear a different color than your other teeth. It will most likely appear gray or black.
Besides possibly losing your tooth or living with significant pain, you could end up with an abscessed tooth if the infected pulp remains untreated. Abscesses are quite painful because they cause muscles located in the jawbone to begin deteriorating. The infection can also cause tooth decay by spreading to nearby teeth. This could require extensive dental work on more than one tooth.
Scheduling an evaluation with Blue Wave Smiles at the first sign of symptoms can save you a lot of discomfort, not to mention expenses. We encourage you to contact us right away at 494-498-6840 if you recognize any of the symptoms listed above.