How to Know if a Root Canal is Needed for a Toothache

woman visiting her dentist with tooth pain

How to Know if a Root Canal is Needed for a Toothache

When you have a persistent toothache, it can be difficult to focus on anything else. Fortunately, you can get to the source of the problem by visiting your dentist. In some cases, the issue may have a simple fix. However, it may turn out that you require root canal therapy. In honor of National Toothache Day (Who decided we needed to celebrate this?) on February 9, the guide below explains why this procedure is sometimes necessary.

Toothaches & Root Canals: What Patients Should Know

What Causes a Toothache?

Most people will experience at least one toothache during their lives, and this pain can have a multitude of causes. You may have a cavity, or your enamel may have eroded, causing increased sensitivity. Some patients may also have food stuck in their teeth or under their gums or a hidden chip. When you visit your dentist, a thorough cleaning or restorative procedure may help you find relief.

How Do You Know If You Need a Root Canal?

In some cases, the cause of your toothache may be hidden inside of your tooth. When the pulp, the soft area within the center of the tooth and contains the nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue, becomes infected or inflamed, it can cause severe dental pain. You may also experience tooth sensitivity, gum tenderness, and swelling. Your tooth may also darken or appear gray. This internal decay will spread if not treated by a dentist, and can quickly lead to you losing your tooth. A good rule of thumb is to call your dentist at the earliest signs of anything that concerns you. This will leave you the best chance at catching problems while they are still less expensive, and saving your teeth.

What Can You Expect From Root Canal Therapy?

During a root canal therapy procedure, your dentist will apply a local anesthetic to the area around the tooth so that you don’t feel pain. They will then use a small drill and files to get into the infected area and removed the damaged tissue. After thoroughly cleaning the inside of the tooth and killing off any bacteria, they will fill the pulp chamber with a rubbery substance, topped by a filling or temporary crown, which will then require a permanent crown in the following weeks.