Five Signs You Need a Root Canal

Endodontic treatment — or root canal therapy — is one of the last steps our Mesa dentist can take to save abscessed or dying teeth. Unlike fillings that simply patch up a small area, or crowns that cover the outside, root canal treatment addresses the tooth from the inside. It’s a restoration that’s placed down into the nerve chamber that runs through the center of the tooth root, essentially sealing it off.

Getting a root canal means you’re removing the nerve and blood supply tissues that keep your tooth alive. Usually it’s because they’re deteriorating or infected, causing the tooth to erode from the inside.

Although a cracked, dying, or abscessed tooth may not always “hurt” so to speak, here are five warning signs that you need to watch for. If you have even one of them by itself, speak with our Mesa dentist about getting a root canal: 

There is Swelling or Drainage

Dental abscesses are one of the tell-tale signs of needing a root canal. Generally, the abscess appears as a small cyst near the root of your tooth that’s visible on dental X-rays. Even though you won’t see this image unless you’re in the dental office, you can experience some of the side effects, such as a salty taste or swelling from the drainage.

Fistulas are pimple-like areas of swelling that occur on your gums near the infected tooth root. They’re full of fluid that’s draining from the tooth. Occasionally these fistulas will rupture, leaving visible drainage that might be yellow or white in color. There may also be a salty taste associated with the liquid. Fistulas tend to come and go, so it’s important not to assume that your tooth has “healed itself” if you don’t see the swelling come back. 

Your Tooth is Turning Dark

Since our teeth are porous, it’s natural for them to collect stains or discoloration over time. But when they do, you see a generalized color change across your entire smile, not a single tooth.

When an individual tooth is starting to change in color, it’s easy to pick out from its neighbors. Typically, the shade shifts to a brown or greyish hue that affects the entire structure. When it does, it means that the nerve tissues inside of the tooth are starting to deteriorate.

Your Tooth is Sensitive to Hot Foods or Liquids

It’s fairly common to experience sensitivity to cold temperatures. But any time a tooth is reactive to heat, it’s almost always an indication that there is some type of a nerve infection.

Heat sensitivity means the nerve is hypersensitive to stimuli, when it normally shouldn’t be. You could have an abscess, deep cavity, or cracked root. A root canal is the only solution to preserve your tooth from an extraction.

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A Cavity Made its Way to the Center of Your Tooth

Your tooth has a layer of enamel and dentin protecting the nerve inside of it. But any time you get a cavity and don’t treat it right away with a filling, the decay can spread into adjacent tooth structures (or teeth). At some point, the cavity will rupture through the enamel and make its way into the dentin. Since dentin isn’t as dense or strong, it decays at an accelerated rate.

In no time, the cavity will burrow its way through the final layer of tooth until it ultimately reaches the nerve. At that point, the nerve tissues become contaminated. Covering the tooth with a filling or crown would trap bacteria inside, resulting in recurring toothaches or abscesses.

There Was a Traumatic Injury in the Past

Teeth can surprise you sometimes. If you had an injury to your mouth — even if it was 10 or more years prior — the affected tooth may gradually start to die. It might be that you were in an automobile accident, got hit in the mouth with a baseball, or your preschooler accidentally head-butted you when your mouth was at head level. Although your tooth was fine then, the nerve inside of it ultimately gave out.

It might be that your tooth isn’t dying just yet, but that the root itself is cracked. In either scenario, a root canal is the standard of care.

Gentle Root Canals | Mesa, AZ

Eastport Dental provides gentle endodontic treatments with an experienced dental team. Dr. Vinh Huynh, DMD will thoroughly evaluate your tooth to determine which restoration option is best for your needs. If it’s a root canal, we’ll discuss the process and what you can expect. Financing plans are also available.

Contact our root canal dentist in Mesa today to request an appointment

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