Lots of people think root canals are painful procedures. However, the pain associated with root canals often comes from the pain beforehand which is fixed by the procedure itself. This pain is typically caused by an infection reaching the inner area of the tooth, called the pulp. Seeing your dentist is the only way to determine if you need a root canal in Jacksonville, but if you experience any of these 7 symptoms, chances are it may be necessary.

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is the small canal through which your nerve tissue connects with your gums and jawbone through the inside of your tooth’s root. When decay reaches the inner layer of your tooth, root canal therapy is applied to remove the pulp. Your endodontist in Jacksonville will create a small hole in the top of the tooth, remove the nerve tissue and pulp, and refill the pulp layer with a biocompatible substance. Then, your dentist will almost always cover up the tooth with a dental crown to protect it.

1. Persistent Pain

The most common sign that you need root canal therapy is constant pain. If you have trouble doing activities like eating and drinking without pain, see your dentist as soon as possible. They will examine your tooth to see if nerves or blood vessels have become infected or inflamed. If so, they may prescribe antibiotics to see if that solves the problem.

2. Sensitivity to Hot and Cold Temperatures

If eating ice cream sends a searing pain through your mouth, that’s a probably sign that you need a root canal. On the other hand, if you have ever turned down hot coffee or tea because you know it will hurt, that’s another common sign. Even if your sensitivity is only mild, see your dentist right away to see if you need treatment.

3. Swollen Gum Area

If your gums are swollen, it can be indicative of a bacterial infection. In this case, your dentist may try antibiotic treatment to see if the swelling lessens. If not, a root canal may be necessary.

4. Chipped or Cracked Tooth

Your tooth can get cracked or chipped for a few reasons, such as:

  • Injury during sports
  • Eating very hard foods
  • Previous dental procedures going awry

Chips or cracks in the tooth can expose the nerve, making it more vulnerable to infection. If your tooth has been injured, even if it doesn’t hurt, contact your dentist to make sure a root canal is not needed.

5. Dark Coloring Around the Tooth’s Root

Discoloration of the tooth can be the result of a few things, including:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Exposure to food and drink that stains the tooth’s enamel
  • Nerve damage beneath the surface of the tooth

Let your dentist know right away if your tooth has a different color than normal.

6. Deep Decay

Once a cavity has reached the inner layer of your tooth, a root canal is pretty much the only treatment option. This is why routine dental appointments are so vital to preventing root canal therapy. Your dentist can fill your cavities and prevent them from getting bad enough to warrant a root canal.

7. Sensitivity That Lasts a Long Time

If you experience sensitive teeth every once in a while, it might not be much to worry about. But if your sensitivity has persisted for days or even weeks, it’s time to let your dentist know. It could be a serious sign that the root of your tooth is infected.

Root canals may sound scary if you’ve never had one, but most patients are actually relieved once they get one. It heals their pain and makes them feel much more comfortable. If any of the signs listed above describe you, it’s urgent that you alert your dentist.

About the Author

Dr. Andrew Calhoun is an endodontist, a dentist who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the inner layer of the tooth. He earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Association of Endodontics. If you think you may need a root canal, contact Dr. Calhoun here or call him at (904)-262-9466.