26 Root Canal Tooth

Root Canal Symptoms

"Do I need a root canal?" It's a common question. When our teeth hurt, we assume that we need an endodontic root canal to fix the problem.

It's easy for many people to ignore a toothache – until it progresses to the point of intense pain and discomfort. As a family dentist, we encourage our patients to come in for an appointment at the first sign of a toothache.

The sooner we can address the problem, the better. You may only need a filling, but if you wait too long, you may need a root canal.

Do I Need a Root Canal?

Maybe. If your tooth hurts, you may or may not need a root canal. Toothaches can develop for a variety of reasons:

  • You may have a cavity
  • You may have enamel erosion
  • You may have a cracked or chipped tooth

In these three cases, we can treat the problem without the need to perform a root canal.

  • Cavities can be treated with a filling
  • Cracked or chipped teeth can be treated with veneers, crowns or bridges
  • Enamel erosion can be treated with a dental crown or composite
  • A deep cleaning can remove food particles that are causing discomfort

When is a Root Canal Necessary?

Dentist examining a patient

Of course, there are some scenarios in which a root canal is necessary. We'll consider the following when determining whether a root canal is necessary:

How Long the Tooth Has Been Hurting

One of the first questions we'll ask when you come in for your appointment is: how long has the tooth been hurting?

Did the pain come on suddenly, or has it been building over time? The answer to this question can help us determine what's causing your pain and how to address it.

The Intensity of the Pain

How bad is the pain? If you're only feeling a little discomfort, it maybe a cavity that we can treat with a simple filling.

If you're experiencing intense pain, however, you may need a root canal. Severe pain is often a sign of a more serious infection that may warrant a root canal.

When Should You Call Our Emergency Dental Office?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, please contact our emergency line:

  • Difficulty swallowing. Contact our emergency line right away – do not delay. If you're having difficulty swallowing, you may have a dental abscess that has spread from your tooth to the floor of your mouth or neck. This symptom requires immediate medical attention.
  • Swelling in the face. Swelling can be a sign of severe infection and may require an immediate root canal.
  • Pain when biting down. If you're experiencing discomfort when biting or closing your mouth, your tooth may be infected and require a root canal.
  • Your tooth is a different colour. If your tooth is changing colour, this may also be a sign of an infection. In this case, the tooth may look dull or gray.

What Happens During a Root Canal?

If we determine that a root canal is the best treatment option, we will take the time to talk to you about how the procedure will work and what you can expect. Our goal is to perform the procedure in a way that's as comfortable as possible.

Contrary to what you may have heard, a root canal does not have to be painful. In fact, we can use sedation to help you feel calm and relaxed during the procedure.

The purpose of the procedure is to remove the infection, which is the source of your discomfort. Once the infection has been removed, you should feel much better.

Here's how the root canal procedure works.

  • First, we will clean the tooth and numb the area.
  • Next, we'll drill a small hole in the tooth.
  • Once the hole has been created, we can remove the infection.
  • After we remove the infection, we can clean the inside of the tooth.
  • Next, we'll seal it up with a rubbery substance.
  • Finally, we'll restore your tooth with either a crown or a cosmetic filling.

Many patients ask us whether a root canal procedure will kill their tooth. The answer is no. A root canal does not kill the tooth - it will continue to function as normal. However, during the procedure, we will remove the nerves that are inside of your tooth. These nerves don't really serve a purpose anyway.

What Can I Expect During Recovery from a Root Canal?

Like other dental procedures, a root canal can leave you feeling sore and uncomfortable for a few days. You may experience:

  • Inflammation
  • Sensitivity
  • Swelling
  • Uneven bite

In some cases, patients have a reaction to the medication, but this is not common.

We will provide after-care instructions, so make sure that you follow them. Typically, we use local anesthesia when performing root canals, so you should be able to drive home. However, we still recommend having a friend or family member take you to and from your appointment. After the procedure, you may feel some discomfort that can distract you from driving.

A root canal is a procedure that can save your teeth and help protect your natural smile. If you're experiencing a painful tooth, please call our office

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Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu - Dentist at Lighthouse Dental Centre and Blue Water Dental
Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu

With nearly two decades of experience, Dr. Sidhu enjoys helping his patients learn about dentistry. Knowledge is meant to be improved, challenged and shared.

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