While persistent pain is a common sign that a tooth is in trouble and may need root canal treatment, it isn’t the only indicator. If your tooth doesn’t hurt but you have other symptoms, you shouldn’t ignore the problem until it DOES.
To understand why pain should not be your only indicator to check with your endodontist to see if you need a root canal, let’s look at how dental professionals assess a potential root canal case.
You May Need A Root Canal – Whether You’re In Pain Or Not!
When you go to the endodontist to be evaluated for a root canal, they will take x-rays of your teeth, as well as examine your mouth and gums carefully, performing tests to determine if your tooth’s nerve pulp is damaged. They will ask you questions about symptoms you may be experiencing. Some conditions that will definitely get their attention include:
- Swollen gums. Often, waste products from a tooth with dying or dead pulp will build up near the affected tooth, causing tenderness and swelling in your gums. The swelling doesn’t have to be constant to be of concern.
- Gum boils. This term refers to a small pimple-like pocket of pus that can form on the gum near the affected tooth. If the boil drains into your mouth, you may experience an unpleasant taste in your mouth or bad breath.
- An individually darkened or discolored tooth. A tooth that is noticeably darker than those around it can signal that the tooth has experienced some sort of trauma or damage. While not every darkened tooth needs a root canal treatment, discoloration frequently prompts investigation to clarify what is going on inside the roots of the tooth.
- Tooth mobility. If an individual tooth feels loose, your endodontist will want to evaluate the cause. A loose tooth can be caused by acidic waste products from an infection softening the bone around that tooth’s root.
- A chip or crack in the tooth. Even if it isn’t causing pain yet, chips and cracks in the enamel of a tooth can let in infection, allowing damage to the nerve pulp that can only be treated with a root canal.
“Tooth pain can indicate a variety of dental conditions best treated with prompt intervention,” says Dr. Susan L. Wood, who practices with the Phoenix Endodontic Group. “However, pain is not the only or even sometimes the most reliable signal that something needs attention. Your endodontist has the equipment and the experience to evaluate your symptoms and discuss whether a root canal or another type of procedure is needed to return your mouth and gums to full health.”