While you cannot diagnose yourself, there are some common signs and symptoms that might mean you need root canal treatment.  These signs should prompt you to make an appointment with your dentist or schedule an endodontic diagnostic exam. Only after taking x-rays and performing some tests, can a dental professional determine the right course of action for you. Our team at Lowry Endodontics has created this list of signs to help you decide if you need to schedule an evaluation. Check about the top signs you may need a root canal in the list below.

1. Sensitivity That Persists

Some people have sensitive teeth that feel pain when exposed to heat, cold, acids, or sweets. Sometimes, the causes may be worn enamel, receded gums, or naturally sensitive teeth. Once the irritating source is removed, like cold for example, the pain almost instantly resolves.  

A signal that your tooth sensitivity could be something more serious is if you experience lingering sensitivity after removing the source.  Another indication of a problem is if you have never had dental sensitivity before or if the sensitivity only affects a single tooth.  If your sensitivity is getting worse or is not getting better, it can also mean that there is a nerve issue.  

Don’t try to self-treat tooth sensitivity with special kinds of toothpaste. New sensitivity in teeth needs an evaluation to see if you need root canal therapy or other types of treatment.  Waiting too long can often make your situation worse.  Early detection and management can help prevent future problems and expenses. 

2. Tenderness in Gums

Your gums should not be painful or tender, even when brushing or flossing. Tenderness in all your gum areas could indicate developing gum disease. However, if you have tenderness in one location in your gums, you may need root canal treatment.

Root canal therapy treats infected or inflamed nerves inside teeth. The pain from the infection can also refer to the nearby gums, making them feel tender. Root canal treatment can also ease tenderness in nearby gums by cleaning out bacteria and removing any diseased pulp from the tooth.

Don’t worry about the treatment or aftermath causing more pain. An endodontist has extra training to minimize the discomfort their patients feel.  Therefore, you should not feel any pain or discomfort during the root canal treatment.  After the procedure, you may have minor discomfort for a few days. However, it will likely be much less than the current pain or tenderness you feel before the procedure.

3. Pimple on the Gums

Unlike your face, your gums cannot get pimples from a lack of cleaning. However, if you have a fluid-filled blister or pimple-like protrusion on your gum, you could have an infection in the adjacent tooth that requires root canal treatment to remove.

In some cases, this area could indicate an injury to the gum. However, if the pimple remains after a week and you experience other signs you may need a root canal, schedule an endodontic diagnostic evaluation.

4. Darkened Area of the Gums

Darkened gums could indicate an infection in a tooth that has spread to the gums. If you have this type of problem, whether you experience pain or not, you need to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Infected gums could lead to tooth loss or a systemic infection throughout the body.

5. Crack in a Tooth

Patients need root canal therapy when they have an opening in the tooth that can allow foreign matter or bacteria into the root canals. A cracked tooth can admit bacteria into the internal portions of the tooth. Without treatment for a cracked tooth, you could develop an infection in the tooth or lose the tooth from spreading the infection.

As soon as possible, after you crack a tooth, get to an endodontist for care to maximize the chances of saving your tooth.  Depending on the degree of the crack and whether your tooth has separated will determine the type of treatment you need.

6. Extreme Pain in a Tooth

When you bite down with an infected tooth, you will probably feel discomfort if you have an internal infection. However, this pain may continue even if you are not eating. Pain could even spread to the gums or bones in the area. In some cases, it may be difficult to pinpoint the affected tooth.

Pain, when you need a root canal, comes from the diseased nerve or a tooth infection spreading to the jaw bone.  When the endodontist cleans out the tooth, they remove the cause of the pain and infection, easing your discomfort. However, an endodontic exam will find the source by taking images of the teeth and finding which one has a problem.

7. Tooth Discoloration

Your teeth can become discolored from internal or external sources. External staining may happen when you drink tea, coffee, or wine or eat berries or other staining foods. Usually, you can remove these stains with regular brushing, or they will vanish following a semiannual professional dental cleaning.

Internal discoloration cannot go away from topical treatments. This type of discoloration may make your tooth look black, gray or yellow.  Even over-the-counter whitening products do not correct this type of problem. An infection may be the cause, which could require root canal therapy to fix.

As with tooth sensitivity, don’t try to fix the discoloration of your tooth with over-the-counter products. Get advice from a dentist or endodontist to determine if you need professional whitening or root canal treatment to correct the problem permanently.

Contact Lowry Endodontics If You Have Any of the Top Signs You May Need a Root Canal

Don’t continue to live with the pain of a tooth that may need treatment. Contact us at Lowry Endodontics in Denver, CO, to schedule a comprehensive evaluation. Even if you have signs that you may need a root canal, that does not guarantee that treatment is best for you. Dr. Rahim Karmali works with patients to find the most conservative and predictable treatment to help his patients keep their teeth. Therefore, you may need another form of care to ease your pain and preserve your smile. For quality, caring endodontic care, see us at Lowry Endodontics.