Before delving into the signs that indicate you need a root canal, it is essential to understand what a root canal is and why it is important.
Simply put, a root canal is a dental procedure used to repair or salvage damaged, decayed, or infected teeth so that a person doesn't lose them. The procedure involves drilling open a tooth to remove the affected, decayed, or infected sections of the tooth. Afterward, the drilled tooth is sealed using a dental filling and a dental crown respectively to prevent exposure to bacteria and germs.
With that said, here are three common signs that could indicate you need root canal treatment.
Persistent Tooth Ache
It is essential to note that not all toothaches indicate that you need a root canal. Sometimes you may get a toothache due to sensitivity to extremely hot or cold foods or drinks. Nonetheless, toothaches resulting from such factors don't usually last longer than a few minutes, after which they go away.
However, if you have experienced a severe toothache for more than a day and the pain seems to be getting worse, chances are you may need a root canal. In most cases, prolonged and severe toothaches result from damaged or infected nerves in the tooth. However, the pain could also result from a cavity or gum disease.
Therefore, when you encounter a severe toothache for a prolonged period (usually more than a day), make a point of visiting a dentist. The dentist will examine the tooth, and if the pain is a result of any of the above factors, they will schedule a root canal procedure for you.
In most cases, a discolored tooth occurs due to poor oral hygiene, whereby food particles and dirt accumulate on the tooth's surface, giving it a stain. Alternatively, your teeth could get stained by the water you drink. Yes, if there are excessive amounts of fluoride in your water, e.g., well water, it could lead to your teeth turning brown. For such scenarios, teeth whitening is recommended instead of a root canal.
However, if your teeth get discolored due to trauma, you must see a dentist immediately. Blunt force trauma to a tooth often results in the internal structure of the tooth getting damaged, resulting in the tooth turning greyish-black.
The discoloration occurs because the tooth pulps die due to a lack of sufficient blood supply resulting from damaged blood vessels. If left unchecked, the dead tooth pulp could result in inflammation or an infection.
Therefore, if one or more of your teeth start to change color after experiencing blunt force trauma, make a point of seeing a dentist immediately so that they can perform a root canal procedure immediately to salvage the tooth.
Swollen Gums or a Lump on the Gums
If you notice your gums swelling around a tooth, you most likely have inflammation. If a toothache accompanies the swelling, then the tooth also has inflammation or an infection. Alternatively, if you notice a lump on the gums, it indicates an infection. In such a case, the infection could also spread to the tooth's nerves and pulp, resulting in pain.
Therefore, when you notice swelling or a lump on your gums plus the presence of a toothache, it is essential to seek a dentist. In some mild cases, antibiotics can alleviate the infection and inflammation. However, if antibiotics do not work, the dentist will recommend a root canal procedure to remove the infection before it spreads any further.
For more information on signs you need a root canal, contact a professional near you.