tooth anatomy on blue background.

How do you know if you need a root canal?

Root canals are one of the most common dental procedures done in the office. The procedure is often needed if the inner pulp, or nerve, of the tooth has been exposed or has become decayed. Root canals are easily performed in-office in about an hour and can be detrimental to your overall oral health. If you’re currently in pain or experiencing severe sensitivity, root canals can get rid of the discomfort while simultaneously saving the tooth from extraction.

What is a Root Canal?
A root canal involves complete and total removal of the inner pulp of the tooth. This pulp contains the nerves and blood supply specific to the tooth involved. If a tooth has cracked or broken, there might be a chance that it’s left the pulp exposed. Likewise, a tooth that has become severely decayed may require a root canal in order to remove both the decay and the infected pulp. Rest assured that root canals are incredibly easy and commonly performed, so there are only benefits to having the procedure done.

How Do You Know You Might Need One?
One of the most identifying methods of knowing if a root canal is needed is with an exam and x-ray. The x-ray can help us to see if the pulp is infected, decayed or exposed. However, it’s nice to have an idea of what to look for at home if you suspect that you need a root canal. Keep in mind that symptoms related to needing a root canal can be similar to those you’d find when needing a simple filling. However, when the pulp is exposed or decayed, you’ll find the pain and sensitivity that you experience is much more intense than if you only needed a filling. Some things to look for include:

• Severe sensitivity to hot and cold liquids
• Intense pain
• Throbbing or sharp discomfort
• Discoloration and darkening of the tooth
• Swelling and gum tenderness
• Pain that is specific to just one tooth

You may notice these symptoms start out subtly and gradually get worse over the course of several days or weeks. Regardless, it’s important to make an appointment with the office if you’re experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms. Having the root canal performed as soon as you notice the problem can prevent an infection from developing and getting worse. Once the procedure is done, all of the pain and discomfort you’ve been experiencing will thankfully be gone and the tooth preserved.

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