Do I Need a Root Canal? Warning Signs That You Should Know By Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky on September 14, 2023

Man with a toothache

Whether you’ve already been told you need one or you’re experiencing a toothache that just won’t quit, you might be wondering, “When is a root canal necessary?” If you’re in pain, that’s a hallmark sign you might need root canal therapy. In this blog post provided by my Edmonton, AB, dental office, we’ll cover other common symptoms and when it’s time to take action.

Dental Pain & Sensitivity Are Common Signs You Need a Root Canal

Toothaches are hard to ignore. It’s possible you need a root canal if you’re experiencing:

  • Discomfort when you bite down and chew: You might find yourself favoring one side over the other in these cases.
  • Sensitivity to very hot or cold foods or drinks: Keep in mind that this feels different from how people can have naturally sensitive teeth all the time.

Other Symptoms of a Root Canal Infection

The way a root canal infection presents varies from person to person. Outside the classic symptoms of pain and sensitivity, what you’ll experience is largely based on how advanced the infection is. We often observe:

  • Swelling: You might experience swelling in the jaw and face. In more advanced cases, the swelling can extend to the lymph nodes in the head or neck.
  • Bumps Along the Gum Line: Some of the patients at our Edmonton office develop a small bump on the gums near the affected tooth. It might be raised and inflamed and in some cases, resemble a pimple.
  • Bad Breath or a Bad Taste in Your Mouth: One more symptom you might not immediately associate with a root canal infection is bad breath or a persistently bad taste (often bitter) in your mouth. If you’re practicing good oral hygiene and haven’t changed your diet recently, a root canal infection could be the culprit.

Signs of an Advanced Root Canal Infection

Dental infections can eventually affect the health of your entire body. You might have a fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms. As sepsis sets in, you could have trouble breathing and feel like your heart is racing. Dehydration and stomach pain can also develop. Keep in mind that if you find yourself experiencing these types of symptoms, it’s time to head to the emergency room – not the dentist.

Understanding Why Root Canal Symptoms Develop

Root canal infections develop when harmful bacteria affect the inner portion of a tooth. Unlike the durable outer portion of a tooth, this area contains delicate structures like nerves and blood vessels. As your body responds to try and heal the infection on its own, swelling can occur. And the pimple-like bumps that can develop? In extreme cases, an abscess develops around the tooth. More widespread symptoms mean that the infection has entered your bloodstream, putting your general health at risk.

Preserve Your Smile & Reach Out Today

If you found this blog post helpful and the symptoms sounded consistent with your experience, don’t waste any time. And if you’ve been told you need a root canal and would like a second opinion, we’re happy to help. Message our Edmonton office today to request a consultation.

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Dr. Podilsky is qualified to care for your smile:

  • Over 40 years of experience
  • Membership with the Canadian Dental Association
  • Dedicated to ongoing training 
  • Membership with the College of Dental Surgeons of Alberta

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