Signs You Need a Root Canal: Identifying Dental Red Flags

Signs You Need a Root Canal: Identifying Dental Red Flags

A root canal is a procedure used to treat dental conditions affecting the tooth’s pulp. The pulp, the tooth’s innermost part, contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. When the pulp is damaged or infected, it can cause severe pain and discomfort. A root canal can help to alleviate this pain and save the affected tooth from extraction. 

In this article, we will explore the various signs that signify the necessity of a root canal procedure. 

Signs to Have a Root Canal

Persistent Pain

Unbearable pain when chewing or biting is typically a sign of internal nerve damage. It is brought on by pressure applied to the infected pulp, which sets off the local nerve endings. Your jaw, cheek, or other teeth may experience sharp, throbbing, or shooting pain.

Tooth Sensitivity

If you experience sensitivity when you eat or drink hot or cold foods and beverages, it could indicate that the nerve in the tooth is damaged or infected. Extreme heat causes pain and suffering by irritating nerve endings. The sensitivity manifests as a powerful, throbbing pain or a dull ache that lingers even after consuming the food or drink.


The tooth receives nutrients through the blood vessels present in the pulp. In the event of an infection, these blood vessels can lead to discoloration and darkening. The bacterial infection destroys the pulp tissue, resulting in a gray or black discoloration. 

This also weakens the tooth, making it more susceptible to breakage. Infected teeth with a dying pulp may exhibit black, yellow, or brown streaks and vertical or horizontal fissures or lines.

Swelling and Tenderness in the Gums

The tissue near the root tip may be inflamed, swollen, and pressure-sensitive. Poor breath and a bad taste in the mouth can result from a gum protrusion that looks like a pimple and may also ooze pus. This infection can spread to other mouth parts and cause further complications.

Loose Tooth

As a result of the infection, the adjacent bone weakens, potentially causing the tooth to shift or become loose. The bone can be corroded and degraded by acidic waste products generated by bacteria. When a tooth becomes unstable or loose, it can pose challenges in eating and speaking comfortably. It is of utmost importance to consult a dentist for a proper diagnosis, as loose teeth can be attributed to various conditions, including periodontitis. 

Cracked or Chipped Tooth

When the tooth’s pulp is exposed due to damage to the face or by biting on something hard, germs and other debris can enter. This results in an infection, which inflames and hurts the affected area. This can also lead to a condition requiring a root canal.

How to Spot Infection After a Root Canal

  • Pain and Discomfort – You may experience a dull ache or sharp pain around the affected tooth. The pain may be constant or intermittent, worsening when you bite or chew.
    • Swelling and Redness – The area may be tender to the touch, and you may notice that your gums are swollen and puffy.
    • Sensitivity to Heat and Cold – You may feel a sharp, shooting pain when you eat or drink something hot or cold.
  • Bad Taste or Odor – If you notice a bad taste or odor in your mouth, it may be a sign of an infection. This can happen if the infected tooth releases pus, which can have a foul smell and taste.
  • Fever and Fatigue – Sometimes, an infection after a root canal can cause a fever and fatigue. If you feel tired or run down and have a fever, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately.


Recognizing the signs indicating when you should have a root canal is crucial for maintaining your dental health. Ignoring the above-mentioned signs can lead to further complications and potential tooth loss. Early detection and timely treatment can help preserve natural teeth and maintain a healthy smile.

Looking to enhance your smile with a cosmetic dentistry procedure? Look no further! Our expert family dentists at Dentistry & Orthodontics are here to cater to all your dental needs, from routine care to orthodontics, emergency dental care, and major reconstructive work. Our friendly and multilingual team proudly serves the communities of Kennesaw and Lilburn, GA. Contact us now!


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