When Does a Tooth Need a Root Canal?

TEETH ARE SAVED by root canal therapy more than 41,000 times a day in the US, adding...

TEETH ARE SAVED by root canal therapy more than 41,000 times a day in the US, adding up to over 15 million times a year. Let’s look at a few of the signs that a tooth needs the attention of an endodontist.

  1. The tooth becoming loose. If an adult tooth feels loose, that’s a symptom of infection. Acidic waste products from a dead tooth can soften the surrounding bone.
  2. A chipped or cracked tooth. Damage to a tooth (whether it comes from an accident or happens while chewing) can introduce bacteria to the pulp chamber inside the tooth, inflaming and infecting it.
  3. Sensitivity and tooth pain. The pulp dying inside a tooth can irritate the periodontal ligament around the root tip, which can cause sharp pain when touching the tooth or trying to chew with it.
  4. Swollen gums. If the gums swell up around a painful tooth, that’s a good sign that it needs root canal treatment. It could mean an abscess. Dental abscesses may create bad breath and a foul taste.
  5. Discoloration of the tooth. An infected tooth sometimes changes color — not just at the surface. It may take on a grayish-black appearance as the internal tissue breaks down.
Top image by Flickr user Wonderlane used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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