Signs You Need Root Canal Therapy

When to Seek Treatment for Dental Infections

Many patients are apprehensive about getting a root canal treatment because they fear the pain associated with the procedure, which is a common myth. But, the truth is, a root canal can provide significant relief from the pain and discomfort caused by an infected tooth.

So, how do you know if you need root canal therapy? Discover common signs of dental infection with our North East, PA, dentist and what to do when you suspect your tooth is infected.

person experiencing a dental emergency; dealing with jaw pain (TMJ)

Signs You Need Root Canal Therapy

When you need a root canal treatment, it’s important to recognize the telltale signs and seek prompt dental care. Ignoring the warning signs of an infected or damaged tooth can lead to severe tooth pain, tooth loss, and other oral health issues. Let’s explore the common signs that indicate you may need a root canal procedure.

Persistent and Severe Tooth Pain

One of the most prominent signs you need a root canal is persistent and severe tooth pain. If you experience a dull ache or sharp pain deep within a tooth, especially when biting down or applying pressure, it could signify an infected or inflamed tooth pulp. The pain may radiate to your jaw, ear, or neck, indicating that the infection has spread beyond the tooth’s surface.

Sensitivity to Temperature

Do your teeth hurt when you consume hot or cold foods? Prolonged sensitivity to temperature changes can be a sign that the nerve endings within the tooth are damaged or the internal tissue is infected, requiring root canal treatment.

Gum Swelling and Tenderness

If you notice swelling, tenderness, or a small bump (abscess) on your gums near a particular tooth, it could indicate an underlying infection. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the tooth’s base and can cause severe discomfort. In such cases, root canal therapy is essential to prevent the infection from spreading to other teeth and gum tissue.

Tooth Discoloration

An infected tooth can appear discolored or darkened, indicating that the pulp inside is damaged. If your tooth has changed color and you experience pain or sensitivity, seek immediate dental treatment.

Chipped or Cracked Tooth

A cracked or chipped tooth can expose the pulp, leading to infection and decay. If you notice a crack or chip in your tooth and experience pain or sensitivity, you should consult your dentist immediately.

Persistent Pimple on the Gums

Also known as a dental abscess or fistula, a persistent pimple on the gums can signify an infection draining from the tooth’s root. It may also be accompanied by pus or an unpleasant taste in your mouth, indicating a need for root canal treatment.

Risk Factors of Developing a Tooth Infection

While anyone can develop an infected or damaged tooth that requires root canal therapy, certain factors can increase your risk. These include:

  • Poor Oral Hygiene: Failing to brush and floss regularly can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can eventually lead to tooth decay and infection.
  • Tooth Injury: A cracked, chipped, or fractured tooth can expose the pulp and make it more susceptible to infection and decay.
  • Deep Cavities: Untreated cavities can progress and reach the pulp, leading to infection and pain.
  • Previous Dental Work: If you have had multiple dental procedures on a tooth, such as fillings or crowns, it may be more susceptible to infection and require root canal therapy.

Contact our North East dentist at North East Dental Arts by calling (814) 725-4700 today if you’re experiencing signs of a root canal infection. Dr. Nuhfer and our dental team will do their best to ensure that your natural tooth gets saved.

starting dental treatment

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you don’t get a root canal treatment?

If left untreated, an infected or damaged tooth that requires root canal therapy can lead to complications and even tooth loss. The infection can spread to the surrounding teeth and gums, causing further decay and damage. Ignoring the signs you need root canal therapy can lead to more pain, expensive dental procedures, and possibly tooth extraction.

What does your tooth feel like if you need a root canal treatment?

If you need root canal therapy, your tooth may feel sensitive or painful, especially when you bite down or apply pressure. You may also experience throbbing or aching pain, as well as sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. In some cases, the tooth may become discolored or darkened, and the surrounding gums may be swollen and tender.

How do I know if my cavity has reached the pulp?

If your cavity has reached the pulp, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Pain when you bite down or apply pressure to the tooth
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Swelling or tenderness in the surrounding gums
  • A small bump or pimple on the gums near the affected tooth
  • Discoloration of the tooth, such as darkening or grayness

Don’t Put Off Necessary Dental Work

Root canal therapy is a safe and effective dental treatment that can save your tooth and prevent further complications. If you experience any of the signs mentioned above, seek immediate dental treatment from a qualified dentist like Dr. Nuhfer. Early detection and treatment can help preserve your tooth, alleviate pain, and prevent more significant problems from developing. 

Schedule an appointment at North East Dental Arts in North East today by calling (814) 725-4700. We welcome patients from Erie, Ripley, and Findley Lake, PA. Our experienced dentists will evaluate your condition and recommend the best course of action to restore your dental health and maintain your beautiful smile.