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5 Signs That You May Need a Root Canal

If the thought of getting a root canal sends a shiver up your spine, you’re not alone. Numerous myths surround this common and highly effective dental procedure. But in reality, it’s virtually painless and can help preserve the health of your tooth. So how do you know if you need a root canal and why?

Samir Patel, DDS, of Plainsboro Family Dentistry might recommend a root canal to treat decay or infection inside a tooth. You can develop problems because of an injury to the tooth, tooth decay, or a cracked tooth. 

Here’s what you should know about root canals and what symptoms could signal that you have a tooth requiring treatment.

How a root canal works 

When you have a root canal, or endodontic therapy, Dr. Patel removes the infected pulp or nerve of a tooth. 

During a root canal procedure, Dr. Patel uses a drill to penetrate the exterior of your tooth so he can remove the infected tissues inside. After cleaning and treating the inside of your tooth, Dr. Patel seals the hole he made in your tooth to prevent further damage or future infections. 

This process may sound painful, but modern root canals are comparable to cavity fillings. Plus, Plainsboro Family Dentistry uses anesthetics and numbing agents to ease any pain or discomfort associated with the procedure. 

Signs that you could need a root canal

Only a dentist can accurately determine whether you need a root canal, but you should be aware of these five signs of infection or decay. 

1. An intense and unexplained toothache

If you develop a toothache and don’t know why, you should definitely give us a call at Plainsboro Family Dentistry. Common symptoms of an infected tooth nerve include:

It’s also possible to have an injury to the tooth itself, which can potentially cause infection and damaged nerves. 

2. Persistent sensitivity to temperature

It’s common to have a slight sensitivity to extreme temperatures, especially when biting down on cold or hot foods. For instance, your teeth may hurt when you bite into ice cream. This kind of sensitivity is normal when bearable and short-lived. 

But if you experience extreme sensitivity to cold or hot or symptoms lasting for hours after such exposure, you could have an infected tooth requiring a root canal. 

3. Pain with pressure

Similar to temperature sensitivity, it’s normal to have some sensitivity to pressure. It makes perfect sense that if you bite down on something too hard, it could make your teeth hurt. That’s considered a normal and healthy pain response. 

But if you experience pain from light or normal pressures, like chewing soft foods, you may need a root canal. You should never consider this type of sensitivity normal, because it often means something is amiss. 

4. Tooth discoloration

Unexplained browning or yellowing of a tooth could mean it’s infected. 

When you have surface stains on your teeth — like those that come from drinking coffee or red wine — you can easily erase them with professional teeth whitening (and, in some cases, even with daily brushing). But unlike staining, tooth discoloration occurs within your tooth, so you can’t brush it away. 

If you notice one of your teeth becoming discolored, it could mean that your tooth is dying, making it even more critical to get a root canal as soon as possible. 

5. Gum inflammation, swelling, or tenderness

You should check in with us if you notice inflamed, tender, or red gums, especially if you have persistent inflammation or tenderness. Gingivitis is the most common cause of these symptoms, but dental infections can also cause gum inflammation. 

When ignored, infections can spread to the pulp or nerve of your tooth, resulting in the need for a root canal. 

For more information on root canals, request an appointment at Plainsboro Family Dentistry by sending a message here on our website or by calling us at 609-299-1282.

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