7 Signs That You May Need a Root Canal


Dental care professionals perform 25 million root canals each year. It is the chosen dental surgery to treat many common dental issues such as dental pain and severe sensitivity. Some people who experience these common symptoms don’t realize how serious they can be and delay treatment.

By delaying treatment, they allow the problem to worsen. In many cases, these issues develop into severe medical problems that require a root canal procedure.

In this article, we discuss symptoms that may require a root canal and when to seek out dental care. Continue reading if you want to know how to handle common dental problems. 

What Is a Root Canal?

Before jumping into whether or not you need it, you may be wondering, “what is a root canal?”

A root canal is a dental surgery that removes the nerves and pulp from your tooth. You may need to undergo the process of a root canal procedure for several reasons such as pain and swelling. 

1. Severe Pain

The first sign that you may need a root canal is pain, especially severe pain. As with most injuries, pain is a sign that something is not well with your body. However, while your pain may not be root canal pain, it’s something you should talk with your dentist about.

Pay special attention to pain that is worsening over time or with pressure. Chewing may be difficult or cause additional pain. The pain can range from a dull ache to sharp and sudden pain. Whatever the kind of pain, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your dentist right away. 

2. Swollen Gums

Another sign that you may need to seek out dental care is the swelling of your gums. The swelling may be mild or severe and may also be accompanied by warmth. While you can take anti-inflammatories to help reduce swelling and control any accompanying pain, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to undergo a root canal procedure.

Some instances of swelling also produce discharge from the gums or around the tooth. Another possibility are gums that bleed easily. Both of these issues can be signs of infection, which can cause severe problems if not addressed quickly.

3. Facial Pain or Swelling

Sometimes the signs of a needed root canal occur outside of your mouth such as with your jaw. Dental issues can start deep down in the gum, so you might see facial swelling along your jaw or your cheek. While facial swelling may not lead you to a root canal or the accompanying root canal pain, it is something that needs to be addressed quickly. 

If you’ve had sudden onset of facial pain or swelling, we recommend contacting your dentist right away to discuss the possibility of dental surgery. Your dental care team will advise you on the urgency of your pain or swelling. In some cases, you may need to be seen on an emergency basis. 

4. Gum Discoloration

The color of your gums changes over time and they’re also susceptible to staining. However, some discoloration can be a sign that you need dental surgery such as a root canal. One of these instances is if the discoloration is caused by infection.

An infection in the gums can darken the skin. It can also restrict the blood flow in your gums, causing them to appear paler. Gum discoloration, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, needs dental care immediately. 

5. Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth are a possible indicator that you need a root canal procedure. Some extreme temperatures can cause sensitivity, but if you are experiencing a sudden onset of severe sensitivity, it’s time to call your dental care office. 

Your dentist can help determine if your sensitivity is due to other issues or if you need to undergo a root canal procedure. While some fear root canal pain after dental surgery, it’s not as uncomfortable or as long-lasting as severe sensitivity in your teeth. 

6. Broken or Cracked Teeth

You should seek out your dental care office if you’ve suffered a broken or cracked tooth. Broken or cracked teeth can lead to infection, which can then lead to the need for a root canal. However, some people tend to believe that a cracked tooth is a minor issue.

If they don’t experience severe pain or bleeding, some may not even seek out dental care and infection can set in quickly. In order to avoid infection spreading, it needs to be treated as soon as possible. 

7. Tooth Discoloration

As with gums, discoloration can happen with teeth, especially if you consume coffee or other strongly pigmented foods and beverages. In some cases, however, the issue is not diet-related and could be a sign of a dead or dying tooth. In fact, a dying tooth can result in infection in your gums.

The most obvious sign of a dead tooth is discoloration. If your tooth has changed from white in color to grey or dark, it could possibly have a dead root. This can happen as a result of trauma or other causes and needs to be addressed quickly with a root canal procedure.

Do You Need a Root Canal?

The next time you experience these symptoms, instead of asking “what is a root canal?”, you’ll be asking “do I need dental surgery?” Knowing how to handle these situations and understanding that a root canal might be necessary can help take some of the fear out of the situation.

As long as you contact your dentist in a timely fashion, you’ll be well on your way to receiving the dental care you need.

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About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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cookie clicker
1 year ago

The some discoloration can be a sign that you need dental surgery such as a root canal!!

ajay sharma
1 year ago

very good article you have written here. people can know they need the root canal for their thooth or not.