How Can You Tell If You Need A Root Canal?

30 September 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


Many people who have experienced a tooth ache or pain in their gums have wondered whether or not they needed a root canal. Knowing the symptoms of infection can help you seek treatment when you need it.

How can you tell if you need a root canal?

When you need a root canal, your first indication will be pain and discomfort in your gums or teeth. Your level of discomfort may vary depending on the position you're standing in or the activity you're doing at that moment. For example, your teeth may react intensely to cold or hot foods or may hurt if you bend over or lay down. The actual characteristics of the pain will vary from person to person. It may be dull or intense, persistent or wavering. For some people, the pain will change with time.

Other indications of needing a root canal include:

  • Difficulty sleeping caused by the pain in the gums or teeth.
  • Localized swelling around the tooth causing the problem.
  • A drain for pus may appear above the tooth, near where the root of the tooth would be. This drain may seem to wax and wane, sometimes seeming worse and other times seeming better. Often this drain will produce a bad taste in your mouth.
  • One tooth seems darker than the other teeth around it. The tooth may look dark yellow, brown or slightly grayish/black.

Some people who need a root canal experience symptoms that are much more severe than others. The only way to tell for sure if you need a root canal is to visit the dentist. A dentist will be able to run tests and identify symptoms that you are not able to see.

What can happen if you don't visit the dentist when you need a root canal?

If your symptoms indicate that you could need a root canal, it's important to visit the dentist immediately. Delaying a trip to the dentist or delaying the root canal procedure is a bad idea, for many reasons. Once a root canal is necessary, the tooth will not heal itself. Your pain may stop when the nerves inside your tooth die, but this doesn't mean that the infection has been healed. Untreated infection in your mouth can spread to your jaw or even other parts of your body. Untreated oral conditions like this can lead to more serious conditions such as heart disease.

If you suspect that you need a root canal, contact an experienced dentist right away. Your dentist can determine whether or not a root canal is necessary.