Five Signs You May Need a Root Canal

Deciding whether a tooth qualifies for a root canal treatment is not always easy. People who need a root canal often display several symptoms, but sometimes they may not be obvious. It takes the experienced eye of a dentist to catch them. Our team at the Dental Office of Dr. Igor Babenkov, D.D.S will walk you through some info about dental pulp, root canals, and the telltale signs that you need root canal treatment.  

Root canal therapy affects the dental pulp

The innermost section of your tooth is called the dental pulp. It starts from the root tips and extends upward into the pulp chamber. Its constituents include nerve endings, connective tissue, and blood capillaries.

The nerve endings provide the feeling of hot or cold, but they’re not crucial to the health or normal day-to-day functioning of the tooth. So it’s possible to do away with them without affecting the tooth’s normal functioning.

A root canal procedure involves the removal of dental pulp that’s infected or damaged, followed by cleaning and sealing of the affected tooth. Root canal therapy can save you bigger problems, such as tooth loss.

Causes of damage in the root pulp

Several factors can lead to damage in the tooth’s pulp. The common ones include:

  • Irritation and inflammation
  • Infection due to deep decay
  • Recurrent dental procedures on a tooth
  • Large fillings
  • A chip or crack in the tooth
  • Trauma to the face

Once it’s damaged, the pulp breaks down and bacterial multiplication can cause an infection or lead to the formation of a pus-filled pocket at the tip of the tooth’s root.

In addition, an infection in the root canal can lead to:

  • Swelling that can spread to the head, neck, and other areas of the face.
  • Erosion of bone tissue, especially near the top of the neck
  • A hole through the side of the tooth that drains into the gums or the skin of your cheek

Signs your tooth needs a root canal treatment

If you notice any of these symptoms, it might be an indication you’ll need a root canal in the near future:


This is perhaps the most common sign that indicates the need for root canal treatment. The pain may be mild or so intense that it’s impossible to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Tooth sensitivity

Although some people’s teeth are naturally sensitive to hot or cold food and drinks, prolonged sensitivity may be an indication of pulp damage. Nerve damage in the pulp cavity makes your tooth highly sensitive to extreme temperatures.

Bump on the gum

A pimple-like bump on your gum is a dental abscess and is an indication of pus in the root of your tooth. The bump may be accompanied by fever, and it may fade on its own only to reappear at a later date.

Tooth discoloration

Tooth discoloration is a common phenomenon, especially among tobacco users and people who drink coffee regularly. Even so, having one severely discolored tooth might be a sign that root canal treatment is needed.

Swollen gums

Inflammation of the gums could be a sign that tooth decay has spread to the gums through the root of the tooth. Most of the time, the swelling will not subside until the tooth is treated.

Root canal therapy has a high success rate, and most teeth treated this way will last a lifetime. If you’re having tooth discomfort or any of the other signs outlined here, call our office in Roseville, California, at 916-287-3154 or book online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Babenkov.

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