Do I Need a Root Canal?

Woman Holding Side of face

Toothaches and root canals are often intertwined because many people associate one with another; the popular portrayal of root canals and toothaches often connect these two as the same. However, to dismay that belief, toothaches don’t always lead to root canals but can be treated. Root canals are referred to when the tooth’s pulp and nerve endings are damaged and infected to the pain where the entire tooth has become decayed. Root canals are required when that simple toothache becomes unbearable, and here, we’re to tell you the difference between a regular toothache and a toothache that needs a root canal treatment.

Cavities: Symptoms and Causes

Cavities can present severe damage to the integrity of the teeth if left untreated. Cavities show minor signs of damage to the tooth’s enamel, and most often occur along with the anterior sets of teeth (your molars). However, this damage leads the tooth to become exposed to bacteria and food particles in the mouth. Often caused by the development of plaque build-up due to a lack of oral hygiene habits, cavities can create what people typically describe as a toothache, and present these symptoms:

  • Toothaches – These aches will occur spontaneously, meaning they’ll be highly affected according to what you eat, such as sweets, hot teas, and cold drinks. The pain will vary in its intensity and will occur without an apparent cause.
  • Tooth Sensitivity – The tooth will most likely be sensitive to extreme temperatures, making enjoying some of your favorite foods difficult.
  • Holes in the Tooth – If you visit the dentist or look in the mirror, you may see the cavity hole. However, most cavity holes are invisible to the eye, and the dentist will be able to determine the cavity’s location.
  • Staining – The surface of the tooth will appear brown, yellow, or even black. Whether tobacco products, tea, coffee, and sodas influence, these can be seen as a visual sign of the tooth having a cavity.

Root Canal Infections: Symptoms and Causes

An infected root canal differs exponentially from a cavity; it’s an advanced form of a cavity left untreated. The plaque build-up and cavity hole have left the tooth vulnerable to infection, and once that infection gains access to the dentin and pulp of the tooth, the tooth’s structure is completely compromised. Symptoms of a root canal infection include:

  • Persistent Toothaches – Once the tooth’s root canal is infected, the pain experienced will be present, constant, and highly affected by any activity in the mouth. Eating and speaking with a root canal infection can become excruciatingly painful.
  • Extreme Sensitivity – The infected root canal will become critically sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Even with efficient cleaning, the tooth will still pick up on sensations even with no food particles.
  • Abscesses – Any foul-smelling liquid in the mouth indicates the presence of an abscess. The tooth pulp can create abscesses, which are pockets of infection that can form around or on the tooth, leading to eventual tooth loss if not treated.
  • Severe tooth discoloration – A grayish-black appearance will form along with the tooth’s enamel, indicating an infected root canal.

If you have a root canal infection, receive treatment at Dr. Alireza Movassaghi at Torrance Dental Associates. If you live in Torrance, CA, contact us and receive a root canal treatment by scheduling an appointment today.

Alireza Movassaghi, D.D.S and Other Dentist Torrance Dental Associates is proud to be the home of Dr. Alireza Movassaghi, a USC School of Dentistry Graduate with 30 years of experience. His mission is to expand access to dental care throughout the Los Angeles area. When not engaged in providing expert dental care for his patients, he's taking in the latest soccer game and enjoying fine cars.
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