Common Signs I Need a Root Canal Treatment

A toothache can be very unpleasant, and it may prompt one to think that they should visit the dentist right away. You may qualify for root canal therapy if you have a tooth infection or severe decay.

The procedure can prevent further injury to the tooth if it is performed when the condition is mild. It keeps your teeth healthy, so long as you get it before any further problems arise.

The majority of people believe root canals are painful, but this is not always the case. Yet, there are signs you can look out for that might show that a root canal is more appropriate than an extraction.

Read on to discover what is involved in a root canal and why you need it.

What Are the Common Signs I Need a Root Canal?


Throbbing or aching in your entire tooth is a sign of an underlying problem. The pain you experience in your teeth may be persistent over time or may come back sooner than you expect.

A toothache is a deep, sharp pain that intensifies when chewing or touching your mouth. You may experience symptoms such as facial swelling and gum swelling from an infection in your teeth roots.  

Sensitivity to Heat & Cold

An infected tooth or damaged tooth may cause you to feel intense pain when you drink hot or cold liquids. The tooth sensitivity to heat and cold often lasts even after contact with hot food or cold food. The pain is usually described as dull, but can also range from sharp to throbbing, depending on the severity of the infection within the tooth. 


Sometimes, teeth are so damaged that their dental pulp becomes compromised. If you notice that your teeth have become stained with a grey-black colour, it may be due to pulpitis. Thus, you should have your regular dentist take a close examination of your teeth and see what needs fixing before it gets severe.

Swollen gums or Abscess

Swelling around the teeth and mouth is a common problem that may be accompanied by pain, but not always. An infection in one or more of your teeth can spread through the soft tissue, causing inflammation that leads to discomfort.
Additionally, a dental abscess is a build-up of pus within the gum tissue. Bacteria usually cause this condition, which can be painful. It usually occurs near the root of a tooth. Periapical abscesses originate at the tooth root tip, and periodontal abscesses form close to one side of the root. 

Whenever your tooth pulp tissue becomes infected and dies, it releases an acidic matter which causes swelling around the root tip. When experiencing swelling of the gums or mouth, you should see your dentist as soon as possible, since severe pain in the mouth may progress to more serious problems. 

Loose Tooth

If you feel like your tooth is about to fall out, pay attention to it as it could be a sign of a dying tooth. A loose tooth can often mean unseen tooth decay or nerve damage as the dying nerves and acid soften the bone around the root of the tooth.

Learn More: What Is a Root Canal: Everything You Need to Know

Root Canal Procedure

A root canal is a dental procedure that restores your natural teeth to health. It can relieve the severe tooth pain you have been experiencing in your decayed teeth and stop it from getting worse. A root canal is usually an outpatient procedure, meaning you won’t stay overnight in the hospital. It will be done by a dentist or an endodontist, a specialist who diagnoses and treats persistent tooth pain.


On your first appointment at the dental office, the dentist may take a dental X-ray to look for signs of tooth infection around the mouth. Once the evaluation is done and you need root canal therapy, they will numb the area to get through the process without sensing any pain.

To ensure that the tooth stays clean and dry while in treatment, your dentist will cover it with a rubber dam. The rubber sheet serves as a barrier to keep saliva from getting inside the tooth and acts as an additional safety precaution if anything falls into your mouth.

Opening the Tooth

Next, the dental professional will drill a hole to expose the centre of your tooth. Using a tiny root canal file, the dentist will scrape away all the infected tissue deep inside it, leaving no trace behind. A biocompatible material will fill it and form an impenetrable barrier against future infections.


The dentist will ensure that the area is completely sterile by spraying it with a disinfectant solution and suctioning out any debris. They’ll do this many times to ensure that all bacteria is eliminated from your mouth.

Root Shaping

This step is essential for endodontic treatment, yet it can be difficult due to the irregular shape of the canal. This process ensures that all damaged tissue is removed from the canals to provide space for a dental filling.

In the past, dentists had to spend a lot of time and effort filing their patients’ teeth manually, making the process lengthy. Nowadays, most dentists are using rotary tools that are more efficient and could deliver reliable and better results.

Root Filling

After a thorough dental cleaning, the dentist will seal your teeth against any deep-rooted bacteria. Suppose the dentist can not complete a complex process such as full cavity restoration in one appointment; temporary fillings are placed to keep food and saliva out of the teeth until you can schedule an appointment when all the necessary work is finished.

At the next visit, the dentist will remove your temporary filling to perform this phase of the dental treatment. The gutta-percha is inserted into a hole drilled at the beginning of the procedure and then sealed off.

An artificial crown is used to fortify teeth that have been weakened by deep decay or extensive dental work. During the process of restoring your natural teeth, your dentist will inform you if any further treatments are required.

Is Root Canal Painful?

A root canal is a procedure that removes diseased tissue from the inside of your tooth. The qualified dentist performs the treatment for around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the complexity.

Most patients are often hesitant to get root canal treatment because they fear it will be painful; thus, they delay getting it. Root canal treatment can often be uncomfortable, although advances in anesthetic technology have allowed most procedures to be relatively painless. Still, you may feel a little pressure. Moreover, you may feel some numbness in your mouth following root canal therapy. However, this is only temporary and should disappear within one day. The process is as simple as getting an ordinary filling, but it will take longer to finish. Additionally, you may feel some stiffness in your jaw after you have been holding your mouth open for so long.

The dentist will make sure you’re comfortable before starting. The dentist will administer local anesthesia and inform you if you may need more for longer treatments.

Patients often experience extreme anxiety before going to the dentist. Even with their best efforts, some patients are unable to relax enough and need sedatives. You won’t fall asleep, but it will be relaxing enough that you won’t remember much afterwards.

Final Thoughts

Regular dental checkups can often be a tedious and uncomfortable experience. But routine dental care and good oral hygiene can improve your teeth’s health.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, reach out to us right away to prevent further problems. The sooner you fix these dental health problems, the healthier your teeth will be. We will be glad to answer any questions and arrange an examination to see if any treatment is necessary. Our team can help you look and feel your best by providing you with a beautiful smile.

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Peel Dental Studio

Dr. Bailey formerly served on the Australian Dental Association as President, Vice President Treasurer and Country Councillor. He was on the Australian Dental Association Federal Council and has always been keen to give back to the profession that has been his life. He has tutored student dentists at the Oral Health Centre in Perth.