The center of a tooth is known as the pulp, and it contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. A root canal is a procedure to remove this tissue whenever it becomes severely infected.
This infection can cause pain, swelling, and other uncomfortable symptoms. If not treated, an abscess may develop, and the infection can spread to other areas of the body through your bloodstream, causing further problems.
Root canals are often needed as a result of a deep cavity, an unattended chip or crack, or severe bruxism (which may result in damage to the soft tissues within the tooth). This procedure can save your natural tooth from falling out or needing an extraction.
Contrary to popular belief, root canals are not generally painful — it is the infection itself that causes pain. The procedure is done under local anesthesia so the patient feels comfortable the entire time.
Do you have a root canal infection? Watch for these symptoms
1. Swollen gums
Swollen gums can be an indication of a serious infection in your mouth. Infection can also cause an abscess, which looks like a pimple on the tooth that becomes infected.
If you notice a pimple or swelling near your tooth, schedule an appointment with us at Timberhill Dental as soon as possible. Your dentist will diagnose the problem and advise you on the next steps!
2. Persistent pain
The pain may be constant or it may come and go. It may be felt as a toothache or a sharp, throbbing, dull ache that can range from mild to severe. You might feel pain when you eat or drink, touch or apply pressure to the tooth, chew food, or bite down on something hard.
If the pain is intense enough to keep you from eating and drinking comfortably, don’t wait any longer. See a dentist right away!
3. Sensitivity to hot or cold
One of the most common signs of pulp damage is tooth sensitivity. If you start feeling pain in your tooth while eating ice cream or drinking a hot beverage, this could be a sign of infection.
If you notice that you are suddenly becoming sensitive to hot or cold foods, and if the pain lingers after you stop eating, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
4. Tooth discoloration
Does one of your teeth look different from the others? If you notice discoloration on your tooth, it could be a sign that you need a root canal. Infection of the internal tissue can damage the roots and give the tooth a grayish-black appearance. This could also happen as a result of an injury. Whatever the cause, it’s important to get it promptly diagnosed and treated.
5. Discoloration of the gums
Infection at the roots of your tooth can show up as gum discoloration. Discoloration can occur when there’s restricted blood flow or infiltrated plaque at the pulp of the tooth, causing further damage if left untreated.
6. Chips or cracks
When a tooth gets cracked or chipped, it can expose the nerves in the center of the tooth and lead to infection. Having the pulp chamber exposed after a tooth has been cracked is a recipe for infection.
If the crack or chip is small, it may not be noticeable at first. You might not realize it’s there until you bite down on something hard and feel a sharp pain.
7. Loose tooth
If you have a loose tooth, it’s important to talk to your dentist. You may not need a root canal but other treatment — loose teeth can be caused by many things, including trauma and gum disease. But if the cause is nerve damage, then you will almost certainly require a root canal treatment.