A root canal is a dental procedure that is used to treat an infection and remove decay from a tooth. The infected pulp and decay are removed from inside the tooth, which allows for the rest of the tooth to be preserved with a filling and crown. The phrase “root canal” might worry some people, especially if they have had bad experiences with dentists in the past. But modern dentistry ensures that patients are as comfortable as possible and a root canal procedure can be the best way to relieve your toothache, prevent infection from spreading, and allow you to keep the affected tooth.

But how do you know if you might need a root canal? Here are some of the symptoms that can indicate you need to have the procedure.

1. Pain

One of the obvious signs that you might need a root canal is if you have a toothache. Persistent pain in your tooth could be a sign of decay and infection. You can feel the pain deep into the tooth and bone, and you might also feel referred pain in other parts of your face.

Having a toothache doesn’t always mean that you need to have a root canal, but it is one sign that you might have an infected tooth. One thing to be aware of is that you’re not out of the woods if your pain goes away. It could be that the nerve in the tooth has died and you still need to get it checked out.

2. Sensitivity

Having sensitive teeth can be a real pain. Cold or hot food and drink can send pain shooting through your teeth and gums. Whether it’s a dull pain or a sharp pain, it can make it difficult to enjoy the things you want to, from coffee to ice cream. Sometimes sensitivity could be a sign that you have generally sensitive teeth, but it can also indicate that you need a root canal treatment. If the blood vessels and nerves in a tooth are infected or damaged, it could cause the tooth to feel more sensitive.

3. Change in Tooth Color

Your teeth can naturally change color over time due to what you eat and drink, or sometimes due to loss of enamel. However, sometimes you might notice that one of your teeth has changed color. If one tooth changes to gray, it’s probably a sign that there is damage to the tooth. This could be due to an infection or perhaps the tooth has experienced some other kind of trauma, such as an injury. The color can change because of the pulp in the tooth dying and not receiving an adequate blood supply. This can mean you need to have a root canal, although there might be some other causes of discoloration too.

4. A Chip or Crack

Injuring a tooth might lead to the need for a root canal procedure. If your tooth gets chipped or cracked, bacteria could find its way into the tooth and cause an infection. There are various ways you might injure a tooth in this way, including playing sports or biting down on something hard. If you crack or chip a tooth, it’s a good idea to see a dentist as soon as you can to get it looked at. Even if you can’t see or feel any signs of damage, there could be damage to the nerve, which might require root canal treatment to deal with it.

You might also find that your tooth feels looser when it’s injured or infected.

5. Swollen Gums

Swollen gums can indicate that you have a problem with a tooth that needs to be addressed with root canal treatment. You might see that there is swelling around one tooth, which could be there all the time or might come and go. Sometimes it can be painful when you touch it or you might also have a small pimple on your gum. You can experience swelling because of the waste products that come from the dead tissue in the tooth. If you notice your gum is swollen, see your dentist to get a diagnosis.

Make an Appointment with Your Dentist

If you notice any of these symptoms, it could be a sign that you need to have root canal treatment. There are other possible causes too, but your dentist can tell you what might be wrong and the best treatment to fix it. Boston Dental’s endodontics specialists can help you when you need a root canal so that you can keep your natural tooth.