3 Signs You Need a Root Canal

3 Signs You Need a Root Canal


A root canal is a common dental procedure. It is a non-surgical restorative treatment that can often save a decayed, damaged, or infected tooth. Root canal therapy has gained a bad reputation that is completely undeserved. With modern anesthesia and advanced technology, a root canal is no more uncomfortable than a cavity filling. 

Could you possibly need a root canal? Here are the top 3 signs to look for. 

Top 3 Signs Your Tooth Needs Root Canal Therapy 

You may have a tooth that needs root canal therapy if you notice any of the following signs: 

  1. Toothache. If you have a tooth that hurts in any way, such as a dull ache, a sharp pain, a throbbing pain, or even pain that comes and goes, it may need a root canal. Severe tooth pain typically indicates that the tooth is infected. Pain that comes and goes or mildly aches could mean that a tooth is at risk of infection due to a deep cavity or a crack in the enamel. The tooth will most likely need root canal therapy in any case of pain.

  2. Extreme sensitivity. A tooth that is extremely sensitive to cold, heat, or sugar may be at risk of infection. Sensitivity indicates that the nerves inside the tooth are exposed in some way, either through a deep cavity or a crack in the tooth. If the sensitivity lingers after the source has been removed, the tooth may need a root canal.

  3. Discoloration. If a single tooth looks gray or brown from the inside and stands out from the rest of your teeth, there may be some internal damage. A discolored tooth is often caused by bleeding inside the tooth, which means the dental pulp has been affected in some way. The dental pulp is the soft tissue at the center of each tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. Infection or damage to the dental pulp means the tooth will need root canal therapy. 

What is a Root Canal? 

A root canal is the procedure named for the part of the tooth that it treats. The root canal is the chamber at the center of each tooth that contains the dental pulp, a soft tissue made up of blood vessels and nerves. When bacteria invades the root canal through a cavity or a crack in a tooth it can infect the dental pulp. 

Root canal therapy is the process of removing the dental pulp from the tooth and replacing it with a substitute material that fortifies the tooth and prevents further infection. A root canal may be done to treat an infection, or proactively to prevent an infection. When a tooth has a deep cavity or a crack that reaches the dentin, the soft layer beneath the enamel, it is highly susceptible to infection. Root canal therapy can prevent discomfort and save the tooth. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Root Canals 

Are root canals painful?

Local anesthesia is used for root canal therapy that numbs the nerves so that you are comfortable throughout the procedure. The process for anesthesia is the same as it is for a routine cavity filling. It may take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to wear off afterwards. 

How long does a root canal take?

An average root canal only takes between 30 and 60 minutes. In some cases the procedure could take as long as 90 minutes, but only for large teeth with complex root structures. 

What Should I Do If I Notice These Signs? 

If you notice any of the 3 signs above that indicate you may need a root canal, call Emerson Dental right away to schedule an evaluation. We can check the condition of the tooth and determine if root canal therapy is needed. The sooner the tooth is treated, the greater the chance that it can be saved, and the less discomfort you will feel. 

Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment at one of our 2 convenient office locations.