4 Signs You Need a Root Canal


If you think you might need a root canal, you’d be one of many.

Every year, more than 15 million root canals are performed on millions of people. 

Why do people need root canals? In most cases, invasive and penetrating bacteria cause inflammation and infection as they interrupt the blood supply between tooth and nerve. Often, this happens after a large, untreated cavity exposes the nerve in the tooth’s center to contaminants.


Root canals are a last result—and a necessary one. What are the signs you need a root canal?

We spotlight the top ones below.

1. Constant, Intense, or Worsening Pain

The root canal symptoms are plenty, but perhaps the most obvious and easiest to identify would be a pain in the mouth. 

If you’re noticing a continuous ache in the tooth, it’s worth having your dentist look into it. They can identify the severity of the problem and whether penetrative bacteria have already affected the blood vessels and nerves. 

This pain can be constant and dull or sharp and instant, especially when eating, biting, and chewing.

2. Inflamed or Discolored Gums

Inflamed gums are typically always a sign of something going on beneath the surface—i.e., bacteria on the tooth.

When there are persistent bacteria on the teeth, harmful toxins get released that can infect your gums. When gums become inflamed and/or infected, it’s a sign that your body is fighting that bacteria. This process can degrade your gums even further.

Ultimately, this could lead to tooth loss.

If you ever have inflamed gums, it’s important to seek professional help. There are also several preventative habits one can practice to keep healthy gums. The same applies to discolored gums, whose darkness often indicates an infection or tooth decay.

3. Increased Sensitivity

Are you noticing a sudden change in how your mouth reacts to certain temperatures?

Perhaps iced beverages, hot beverages, or particularly crunchy or tough foods now hurt your teeth where they used to not. If you’re suddenly feeling an increased sensitivity to hot or cold things, this could indicate a few things:

  • You have damage on the tooth, such as a crack or chip
  • You have an infection 
  • There is nerve damage or an exposed nerve
  • You have an abscess 
  • Bacteria are affecting blood vessels

This symptom often comes in tandem with other symptoms.

4. Loose Teeth

Finally, you should be concerned if you have suddenly looser-feeling teeth.

Nerve death in the teeth releases acidic waste products, which eat away at the tooth’s bone.

When the bone becomes softer, a person often notices the mobility of the affected tooth. 

Do You Have Any Signs You Need a Root Canal?

If so, act fast.

Root canals are the last step in a long line of dental treatments. If you think you need a root canal, or are showing any signs you need a root canal, it’s important to speak with your dentist as quickly as possible. Doing so may prevent further damage or pain.

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