6 Common Signs You Need a Root Canal

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Root canal — two simple words that can invoke a whole lot of apprehension and sometimes even fear.

How do you know if you need a root canal? Are there telltale signs? 

Sometimes the signs are noticeable  – if you have a severe toothache or an obvious cavity, then you know that a root canal is likely in your future. On the other hand, the problem hasn’t become evident to you because it takes the experienced eye of a dentist to know what signs to look for and spot a problem before it escalates. Many physical symptoms usually don’t start until the problem has become more advanced, and in turn possibly more costly to repair, which is why it’s so important to see your dentist regularly. Regular preventative care visits can help you to avoid root canals all together.

If you suspect a problem with one or more of your teeth, do not ignore the signs. The only surefire way to know for sure if you need a root canal is by paying a visit to the dentist. 

However, there are several warning signs to be on the lookout for.

Here are 6 signs that indicate you might need a root canal…..

#1. A chipped or cracked tooth:

Many chipped and cracked teeth are the result of an accident or biting on something hard. Even the tiniest chip or hairline crack in your tooth is enough to allow harmful bacteria into the inner area of your tooth to gradually cause decay and set up an infection.

If you seek treatment for a chipped or cracked tooth immediately, you likely can avoid a full-blown infection and the need for root canal therapy.

Persistent toothache:

The truth is, that not all types of tooth pain are indications for a root canal, so it can be difficult during those early stages of a problem to know if better oral hygiene efforts can solve the issue or if dental work is required. Obviously, a horrible toothache is a major sign that you may need a root canal. It may be a continuous throb or it may come and go, but strong and persistent tooth pain, especially if it gets worse when eating, biting down, or otherwise disturbing the tooth, is a signal that you need to make an appointment to visit the dentist as soon as possible.

It’s important to remember that tooth pain seldom goes away on its own and you need to see a dentist to address the underlying problem that’s causing the pain.

Lingering Sensitivity:

Painful sensitivity to hot or cold that does not dissipate quickly is a possible sign of damage to the nerve within your tooth, and this can be an indicator that you may need a root canal.

A Darkened or Discolored Tooth:

Has one of your teeth suddenly turned grey or black? While some tooth discoloration is common, and can be amended with a teeth whitening treatment, having a severely discolored tooth is indicative of severe tooth decay or the breakdown of internal tissue and might be a sign that root canal treatment is needed.


Swelling does not always indicate that there is a need for root canal surgery. However, any swelling of the face and jaw, ranging from barely noticeable to severe, is one of the most common signs that a tooth is infected. Especially if it’s accompanied by  swelling in the gums surrounding a tooth, and tooth pain. This could be a sign that tooth decay has spread to the gums through the root of the tooth, and chances are you have developed a dental abscess that can only be cleared by a root canal treatment and antibiotics to curb the infection.

Bump on the gum:

A pimple-like bump on your gum is a dental abscess and is an indication of a severe infection in the area of your tooth where the sensitive inner layer that contains arteries and nerve endings. This results in deep pockets full of pus forming around the tooth root. In addition to being incredibly painful, you may also experience symptoms like facial swelling, swollen lymph nodes, and a fever. An abscess requires immediate treatment with antibiotics and a root canal.

What is a root canal?

When a tooth has become badly decayed, or infected, root canal treatment is the only option to repair and save the tooth. When the pulp of the tooth, composed of blood vessels and nerves, is damaged, it needs to be removed and the inside of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed.

Root canals are a standard procedure to treat the pain that’s caused by decay or infection in the tooth pulp and prevent infection from returning or spreading to adjoining teeth. In fact, root canals are the preferred treatment for dental problems that in the past would have led to a losing tooth.

Worried that you might need a root canal? If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, be certain to contact us right away in order to improve your chances of salvaging your tooth! Modern root canal therapy is not only effective but gentle as well. After your appointment, you’ll be well on your way to a healthy, pain-free mouth!

Read More:

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Root Canal FAQ

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