5 signs you need root canal treatment
After several weeks of ongoing dental pain that is barely eliminated with over-the-counter pain relievers, you finally schedule an appointment with your local dentist. You assume you probably have a cavity that can be easily treated with a dental filling. “No big deal,” you think, “I’ve had one before.”
While there, the dentist takes x-rays and determines that the pain is a result of decay well below the surface of your tooth. But instead of a dental filling, he recommends root canal treatment. Your heart rate instantly increases and you get a sense of dread in the pit of your stomach. He advises that if the tooth isn’t treated soon, it will continue to worsen and may even require an extraction.
While many hear the term “root canal” and panic, it’s a commonly performed treatment that can help save a tooth and prevent someone from having a tooth extraction and costly restorative repairs. If you are unsure whether you are in need of root canal treatment, below are five common signs to be aware of.
Is it Painful to Chew?
If you have difficulty biting down or chewing, that is one of the first signs that something may be wrong. Though it may be possible that it’s only a cavity, if the pain increases with overuse, has become chronic, and is followed by gum tenderness – this typically means the issue is more serious and should be addressed immediately.
Root canal treatment is almost just as common as performing a dental filling. If you’re concerned about undergoing this procedure, during your consultation, ask how often your dentist performs root canal treatments and their average success rate. If your dentist only performs this procedure only a few times a month, it may be best to seek a second opinion from a more qualified professional.
Is Your Mouth Swollen?
When there is a cavity, pain is generally minimal or isolated to one section of the mouth. When the infection penetrates the root canal, the gums around the tooth may be red and swollen. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may even notice swelling in your cheeks or jawline. Though icing your face can reduce the swelling, it will not eliminate the infection.
Is Your Tooth Discolored?
Some dental staining and discoloration are normal, especially if you drink dark colored beverages regularly or smoke. However, if you notice the tooth pain is followed by discoloration, this is a sign of something more serious that cannot be addressed with just teeth whitening.
Does the Tooth Have an Abscess?
An abscess is a visible pimple that is around the base of the tooth along the gum line. It is typically sore to the touch and filled with pus. Once found, it’s important that an appointment is scheduled immediately. If the abscess seeps or ruptures, the infection could spread throughout your mouth and even leak into your bloodstream, causing even more serious concerns.
Do You Have Dental Sensitivity?
In addition to gum inflammation and dental pain, some people experience sensitivity when consuming hot and cold foods. Because this is also possible during minor to moderate tooth decay, it is not the only symptom that the infection has penetrated the root canals. This is why visiting the dentist as soon as dental sensitivity occurs is important. When decay is caught early, more conservative treatments can be performed first.
Ask Your Dentist About Other Treatment Options
Root canal therapy is typically recommended as a last resort to prevent an extraction, but designed to help save a tooth. In some cases, more conservative treatments, such as a dental filling or dental crown may be possible. The level of care recommended will depend on if the infection has impaired the roots. When meeting with the dentist, be sure and ask if more conservative treatments are possible. Most dentists will be upfront with you and explain why the treatment is necessary. If cost is a concern, we offer in-house payment plans and accept CareCredit to help make treatment more affordable.