How to Know if a Root Canal is Needed 

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Root canals are an alternative to needing a tooth pulled due to infection and decay. Today, root canals are no more uncomfortable than needing to have a cavity filled. Root canal therapy is incredibly common, with over 15 million procedures completed each year. While a root canal is not always needed for an infected tooth, here is when it is the best option. 

What is a Root Canal?

The general term ‘root canal’ can mean a coupe of different things. First, it refers to the actual passages within the tooth between the pulp and the tooth roots that contain nerves and blood vessels. Once an adult tooth erupts from the gums, the tooth’s nerve doesn’t have a specific job other than to sense hot, cold, or other stimuli. However, when the pulp becomes infected, it is standard procedure to remove the infection and related pain by removing the nerve and the infected pulp from inside the tooth. That process is also known as a root canal, or root canal therapy. 

Signs a You Need Root Canal Treatment 

If the pulp of your tooth becomes infected, you will begin to notice some signs that something is not right. While the only way to be sure you need a root canal is to see the dentist, here are some of the signs:

  • Persistent pain. This is one of the main signs that you might have an infected tooth. The pain might last all the time, or it might go away from time-to-time but always come back. The pain could come from the bone of your tooth, or you might feel pain in your face, jaw, and neighboring teeth. However, tooth pain can also be the sign of other issues like gum disease, cavities, and more. 
  • Tooth sensitivity. Another sign is having a tooth that has begun to hurt when you eat warm foods or drink ice cold beverages. The pain can range from being a dull ache to a sharp pain. 
  • Discoloration. An infection can cause your tooth to become discolored. In this case, it tends to give your tooth a grayish-black color. 
  • Swollen gums. If your gums have become swollen near your painful tooth, that’s a sign that may require a root canal. While the swelling can come and go, it can be tender when you touch it. 
  • Pain when eating. Along with sensitivity when eating, needing a root canal can also result in pain that needs to be treated.
  • Chipped or cracked tooth. If you have a chipped or cracked tooth, bacteria can set in and cause an infection. 
  • Tooth mobility. When an infection sets in, your tooth can begin to feel loosened which is a sign that you might need this treatment. 

The Procedure

When the pulp of your tooth becomes infected, you will need to have a root clean treatment. When you have a root canal done, the infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected. Next, it’s sealed with a rubber-like material. After this is complete, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. The American Association of Endodontists explains that this treatment helps keep the infected tooth functioning as if it were healthy, and helps maintain your smile without the need for ongoing dental work. Further, if taken care of diligently, a root canal treatment can last a lifetime. 


Once the infection is resolved, the canal is filled in to prevent any further infection. Your tooth has been saved, but because it is no longer a living tooth since the pulp, nerves and blood vessels have been removed. A dead tooth can be prone to fracture and can become more brittle. To protect your tooth from these new complications, our dentist Dr. Kevin Varley will restore the tooth with a tooth-colored crown to guard it from injury or infection. A crown is stronger than natural tooth enamel and preserves the structural integrity of the tooth preventing breakage.

Call Stonebrook Family Dental

If you believe that you might need root canal treatment, call Dr. Kevin Varley and Stonebrook Family Dental today. Taking care of symptoms when you notice them early on can help prevent your condition from worsening. This simple procedure can help you become pain-free and get your smile healthy again. Call us today at (303)-872-7907. 


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