Dental pain is often described as one of the most uncomfortable sensations that you can struggle with and for good reason. In many cases, dental pain is the result of a decaying tooth that's at risk of infection. While sometimes the problem tooth will have to be extracted, there are many situations, especially if caught early, where your dentist might be able to save the tooth with a root canal. Here's a look at some of the signs you need to watch for that may indicate a need to reach out to your dentist about a possible root canal.
Visible Decay On The Tooth
If you can see the problem tooth, look for any visible signs of decay. Visible darkening, black spots, holes, and similar signs are the things you need to look for. If you can see the signs of decay, that is a key indication that you need to call your dentist right away. Sometimes, you can save the tooth's core structure by opting for a root canal, but if you allow that decay to progress, you'll reach a point where there isn't enough tooth to save. In those cases, you'll have to have the tooth extracted instead.
Persistent Sensitivity To Cold Or Hot Temperatures
Sometimes, temperature sensitivity in a tooth starts as just a subtle twinge when you drink your morning coffee or eat an ice cream cone. Gradually, that twinge starts to stick around longer and become more noticeable every time you consume something that's too hot or too cold. This sensitivity is another key indicator that your tooth may need a root canal.
When your tooth becomes markedly sensitive to heat or cold, that's an indication that decay has progressed enough that the nerves in the tooth are not well-protected. This leaves your tooth vulnerable to infection if you don't address it right away.
Pain In The Tooth When You Chew
A tooth that's started to decay will begin exposing the nerves in the tooth. Those nerves respond to all sorts of pain stimuli, including pressure. If you feel pain in the problematic tooth when you chew and have started avoiding that part of your mouth when you eat, that's another key indicator that it's time to see your dentist about a root canal. They can eliminate the source of the pain, clean and seal the tooth, and cover it with a crown to restore your normal mouth condition.
Sore, Swollen Gums
When a tooth becomes infected and inflamed, the symptoms often spread to the gums beneath the tooth as well. At that stage, your dentist will need to treat your infected tooth before the root canal, but can then perform the root canal procedure to alleviate the pain and discomfort. If you've noticed that the gums beneath the problem tooth are swelling, tender to the touch, or red and inflamed, you should call your dentist right away.
White Bubbles On Your Gums
If an infected tooth has passed that infection into your gums, you may also see visible white bubbles, almost like pimples, on your gums around the affected tooth. If you see something like this and the bubbles don't seem to be going away, even if they aren't uncomfortable, you should reach out to your dentist right away. Ignoring the signs of an infection in your tooth and gums can be a serious concern, so don't dismiss symptoms like these.
A dentist will be able to examine the tooth that's giving you trouble and let you know if it's a good candidate for a root canal procedure or if that tooth will need to be extracted. The sooner you address the problem, the greater your chances that the tooth can be saved with a root canal.