How Do You Know You Need a Root Canal?

A root canal is one of the last steps in tooth decay treatment before a tooth has to be removed completely. This process carries an unpleasant reputation, but it is a necessary component of smile treatment. Over the years, we’ve perfected the art of making root canals as pain-free as possible, and we’re hoping to erase the stigma surrounding this process. In this guide, we’ll explore common signs you may need a root canal so you know what to watch for.

The Purpose of a Root Canal

When a tooth is damaged or heavily decayed, the nerves inside the tooth become exposed to outside elements. The nerves are sensitive to temperatures and textures that your tooth enamel normally shields them from. During a root canal, we remove the infected pulp in the tooth and sometimes the corresponding nerves. Then we fill and seal the tooth to prevent future damage. Most patients get a temporary filling at first, followed by a custom crown later on.

Root canals are most common on molars, but they can occur on any tooth. Molars make up 90% of cavity cases, which is why they are the teeth most likely to receive a root canal.

Signs You May Need a Root Canal

If you’ve experienced any of the following issues, you may need a root canal or another form of tooth decay treatment:

  • Severe tooth path, specifically when you put pressure on the tooth
  • Swollen gums near the painful tooth
  • A small abscess on the gums near the tooth (sign of infection)
  • Noticeable tooth trauma in the form of targeted discoloration
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold substances, with pain lasting even after the substance is removed

Just because you have no symptoms doesn’t mean you have no tooth decay. In many instances, a person who needs a root canal will discover this during a routine oral health check. If you see your dentist twice a year, you can catch the warning signs early on and possibly protect the tooth before it needs a root canal.

How to Find out If You Need a Root Canal

Regardless of the warning signs, the only true way to know if you need a root canal is to get an oral exam. Your dentist will examine your smile and the symptoms you’re experiencing to determine the best course of treatment. You may not need a full root canal. A simple filling may be enough to rectify the situation. On the other end of the spectrum, the tooth may not be salvageable, and you’ll need to look at replacement options instead.

Whether you need a root canal, filling, dental bridge, crown, or any other oral procedure, the talented team at Clinton Dental Center is here to assist you. We complete over 200 hours of continued education every year to ensure our patients receive top-quality care at every turn. To learn more or to schedule a appointment at our Chesterfield MI dentist office, call at (586) 949-5363.