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Does All Tooth Pain Require a Root Canal?

Not all tooth pain leads to a root canal. A root canal may be needed if a tooth has serious decay or infection in the tooth pulp or due to a cracked/broken tooth caused by an injury. Tooth pain can range from mild to excruciating and come and go throughout the day.

A root canal is a dental procedure that involves removing the tooth pulp (in the center or chamber of each tooth) and nerve of the affected tooth. This leaves a “canal” or opening in the middle of the tooth. The canal is then carefully filled and sealed to protect the tooth against further damage and to maintain the structure. A dental crown is fabricated and placed over the treated tooth.

Here are a few signs that you may need a root canal:

  • Extreme tooth pain when eating or drinking
  • Tooth is sensitive to hot or cold
  • Extreme discomfort when you apply pressure to the area
  • Gum tissue around the tooth is swollen, red or inflamed
  • Tenderness or noticeable swelling externally around the area of the tooth

If you are experiencing dental discomfort, call your dentist for a proper diagnosis. When you arrive at the appointment, the dentist will take X-rays to diagnose the cause of the pain. After viewing the X-rays and completing an oral examination, the dentist will diagnose the problem. Depending on the cause of the issue, the dentist may recommend a root canal or a completely different, less invasive procedure. Some general dentists may not offer root canal therapy and will recommend a specialist, called an Endodontist.

Only a dentist can determine proper treatment of a painful tooth.  Call your dentist before the tooth pain gets too intense.

Root canal illustration

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