3 Signs You Need a Root Canal

Root canals are one of the best ways to save an ailing tooth, and thanks to modern dental practices the procedure is generally quick and painless. However, root canal treatment does involve digging into a tooth to get at the infected pulp inside, so you endodontist generally won’t recommend a root canal unless there is no other way to save the tooth.


But how do you know if you need a root canal to save your tooth? Your endodontist will make the decision during an oral examination, but there are many signs that can help you determine if you should book an appointment or not. To keep things brief, here are the top three signs you should be aware of that should encourage you to see a dentist for a potential root canal:

Sign #1: Mouth pain

Inside your tooth is pulp, which consists of blood vessels, nerves, and other tissues that connect your teeth to the roots and the rest of your mouth. Just like the rest of your body, when the pulp becomes infected or damaged, pain signals will be sent to your brain to let you know that there is something wrong with your teeth.


It is important to note that just because your teeth hurt, you don’t need to rush in for a root canal. There are many other issues that might be causing you to experience oral pain, such as a cavity, many of which can be solved without endodontic treatment. However, if you are experiencing intense, regularly occurring, or lingering pain that doesn’t fade after a few hours, you should consider booking an appointment with your dentist.

Sign #2: Chipped, cracked, or damaged teeth

The pulp inside your teeth is protected by enamel, or the outer shell that makes up the part of the tooth you see and eat with. When the enamel is cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged, bacteria can slip through the openings and infect the dental pulp inside. This is what causes a tooth to get infected and decay, and may cause you to eventually get a root canal.


Prevention is always better than treatment, so if you have a damaged tooth consider consulting a dentist for ways to restore your tooth. Some cosmetic and other restorative treatment options can help seal up chips and cracks, ensuring that the healthy pulp inside doesn’t get contaminated by harmful oral bacteria.

Sign #3: Tender, swelling, or extremely sensitive gums

When your dental pulp is infected, white blood cells are made by your body to fight off the infection. Pus is often generated as a result, and when enough pus builds up an abscess forms. Patients with infected dental pulp may develop an abscess in their gums, which is a clear sign that a root canal may be needed to clear away the dead and infected dental pulp.


However, an abscess doesn’t always form, even in teeth with severe pulp infections. Make sure you pay attention to the following teeth and gum infection symptoms, all of which may eventually develop into an abscess or an infection that requires a root canal if your teeth are left untreated:


Need a root canal? Schedule your treatment at Oakdale Dental

Live near or in Holyoke, Massachusetts? Need a root canal, or want a second opinion on the best way to improve your oral health? Then consider booking an appointment with our dental specialists here at Oakdale Dental Associates. Our highly trained staff will do everything they can to help you improve your smile. We offer a range of dental treatment options for this reason, along with diagnostic and preventive solutions to help you maintain your oral hygiene.

Have a question about our services or ready to schedule an appointment? Then contact us today by phone or online! We look forward to seeing you soon when you get expert care from our team here at Oakdale Dental Associates. 

How Long Is Recovery From Root Canal?

Most patients' recovery from a root canal takes only a few days. You may experience some minor soreness for 24 to 48 hours after your procedure, but over-the-counter pain medications should be enough to control it.

Why Are Root Canals Necessary?

A root canal is a routine, non-surgical procedure that treats inflammation or infection in the pulp inside the tooth. Teeth may need root canals due to deep decay, breakage, other trauma, or interior infections.

Signs that You Could Need a Root Canal

Benefits of a Root Canal

Relieve Pain

The pain caused by a tooth needing a root canal can be severe. It may make it hard for you to eat, sleep, and relax. The pain will not go away without treatment.

Save Your Natural Tooth

In most cases, a root canal can protect your natural tooth from extraction. Treating the existing tooth enables the root to stay in place, giving chewing stimulation to the jawbone and keeping it healthy. An extracted tooth could also cause problems with alignment.

Prevent Infection from Spreading

If you do not get a root canal when you need it, the infection could become an abscess and spread to other teeth and parts of your body. To avoid a systemic infection, treat your tooth as soon as possible.

The Root Canal Procedure

Many patients are wary of receiving root canal treatment, but root canals are now comfortable. The dentist opens the tooth's crown to access the infected pulp inside. To remove the inflamed pulp, the dentist uses special files to clean and reshape the inside of the root canals.

At this point, the dentist may place an antibiotic and wait for the infection to resolve before continuing the procedure. This step may take a few days.

The dentist proceeds by filling the tooth with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha. This material seals out contaminants and protects the tooth from reinfection.

After resealing the tooth, the dentist places a filling or temporary crown to protect it. After the permanent crown returns from the dental lab, your restoration will be complete.

Post-Procedure Care

Avoid biting down or chewing on the treated tooth until the final restoration is complete. After your root canal, you may want to take over-the-counter pain medication. However, your discomfort should be minor. Call us if you have severe discomfort, and we will quickly address your issue.

Call Oakdale Dental

If you are experiencing any symptoms that indicate you may need a root canal, don't wait to call us. A root canal can relieve your discomfort and preserve your natural tooth. Call our Holyoke, MA office at 413-536-1782 to schedule an appointment today.

When Do You Need a Root Canal?

Root canal treatments are recommended whenever the pulp tissue inside a tooth is infected or inflamed. Although a tooth can also be extracted in these circumstances, a root canal allows us to save your natural tooth, which is the best possible outcome for your oral health. During a root canal procedure, the pulp is removed, the chamber and root canals are cleaned, then they are filled to prevent future infection. If you’re wondering when you need a root canal, here are some situations in which they may be needed.

Deep Tooth Decay

When you visit the dentist regularly, we can catch tooth decay in its earliest stages and treat it with a dental filling. If decay is more extensive, it may require a dental crown, and if a cavity is deep enough to reach the pulp of your tooth, a root canal is needed.

This type of deep tooth decay causes the pulp of your tooth to become infected or inflamed, causing sharp pain when you chew or bite into food and painful sensitivity to cold and hot sensations. You may also notice a small pimple-like bump on the gum tissue near the affected tooth or observe that your gums are dark and swollen. These are symptoms of an infection, which means emergency dental care is needed to save the tooth and prevent the infection from spreading.

Faulty Crown

Many people have dental crowns to support a dental bridge or to restore strength and function to a tooth that has sustained damage or deep decay. If a crown becomes damaged or loosens, bacteria can seep in and cause decay in the tooth structure underneath. When this decay reaches the pulp of the tooth, we treat it with a root canal.

In order to perform a root canal on a tooth with a crown, your crown is removed, then the tooth under it is opened so we can access the pulp. After the root canal treatment is completed, you’ll need to have a new crown made to seal and protect your tooth.

Repeated Dental Procedures

Sometimes when one tooth has had repeated dental procedures, the pulp can become inflamed and painful. At this point, you must choose whether you want to have the tooth extracted or if you’d like to save it with a root canal treatment.

Dental Trauma

Dental trauma is another common reason for needing a root canal. While most people think of dental trauma as being caused by a dramatic injury—knocking a tooth out in a car accident or falling and chipping a tooth—it can sometimes take weeks to know that something is wrong. You might bite into something hard and not realize that you’ve cracked your tooth until the pulp becomes inflamed or infected and starts causing pain.

Although dental trauma can take many forms, if your injury reaches the pulp of your tooth, an extraction or root canal is required. If a fracture extends below the gum line, you’ll need to have your tooth removed; otherwise, the preferred treatment option is a root canal, as it allows us to save your tooth. An extraction may seem like an easier option, but only in the short-term—you’ll eventually need to replace your tooth, which is time-consuming and costly. Retaining your natural tooth means you won’t have to get a dental implant or bridge and you won’t have to worry about bone loss in the jaw.

Learn More About Root Canal Procedures

Do you have questions about getting a root canal? Contact us today at 413-536-1782 to schedule a consultation at Oakdale Dental Associates.