Root Canal Infection: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

The dentist shows the patient signs of a root canal infection

Oral health can be a mystery to many. However, people need to understand root canals, a common dental issue experienced by many. Familiarizing yourself with the symptoms of root canal infection, their underlying causes, and available treatment options will help you maintain proper dental health.

Don’t worry Wheatland Dental is here to help you comprehend this dental matter!

What Are the Symptoms of Root Canal Infection?

Can you tell if you need a root canal based on symptoms? Root canal infection, a condition in which the pulp or soft tissue inside a tooth gets infected, can show various symptoms that may raise questions, such as “What causes a root canal?” and “How do I know if I need a root canal treatment?”

Here’s what you should look out for:

1. Severe Tooth Pain

The most common symptom of a root canal problem, especially when dealing with infected root canal symptoms, is severe tooth pain. This discomfort can range from a dull ache to sharp shooting pain. These symptoms usually manifest when the infection or inflammation reaches the nerves inside your tooth. The pain can intensify when biting or chewing on food and may also radiate to the jaw, ear, or head.

2. Prolonged Sensitivity

The second symptom of a root canal problem is prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. This occurs when the inflammation or infection has spread to the nerve endings in the tooth, causing them to become hypersensitive. This sensitivity can last a few seconds or minutes and may occur without external stimuli.

3. Tooth Discoloration

Tooth discoloration can also be a sign of root canal problems. When the pulp inside the tooth becomes infected or inflamed, it can turn the tooth’s color to a dark yellow, brown or gray shade. You may not notice the discoloration initially, but it will worsen if you leave it untreated.

4. Swelling and Tenderness

Inflammation and pulp infection can also cause swelling and tenderness in the surrounding gums. This swelling may cause redness and tenderness when you touch it. Ignoring the infection can cause severe swelling and spread to other parts of the face, causing more pain and discomfort.

5. Dental Abscess

A dental abscess occurs when you leave a root canal issue untreated. It’s a pocket of pus that forms at the root of the tooth, causing severe pain and swelling. If not treated promptly, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, even leading to life-threatening complications.

What Causes Root Canal Infection?

Different factors can cause a root canal infection. These include:

  • Deep Decay. One of the common causes of this infection is deep tooth decay. If you neglect your oral health, bacteria in your mouth can become cavities and cause tooth decay. If you don’t treat the dental decay, it can spread to the tooth’s root canal system and infect the pulp.
  • Infected Pulp. The pulp, the soft tissue within the tooth, can get infected through a deep cavity or damage to the tooth. Leaving it as is can cause the pulp chamber bacteria to infect the root canal, causing unbearable pain and leading to a root canal infection.
  • Dental Procedures. Sometimes, repeated dental procedures on the same tooth or a severe dental procedure can also lead to a root canal infection.
  • Cracked or Broken Tooth. A cracked or broken tooth can expose the pulp, leaving it vulnerable to bacterial infection and subsequent root canal infection.
  • Dental Abscess. An abscess occurs when bacteria creates an infection deep in the tooth root or around the root tip. This will happen when tooth decay becomes severe and invades the pulp, causing a root canal infection.
  • Trauma or Injury to the Tooth. Trauma to the tooth can lead to inflammation, damaging the tooth nerves and resulting in root canal infection.

How Is Root Canal Infection Treated?

This infection can be treated through a root canal treatment. Here’s how it is done:

Step 1. Anesthesia Administration

Oral health professionals start by numbing the infected tooth to curb discomfort.

Step 2. Access Creation

A dental specialist will create an opening in the tooth to access and remove the infected pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals.

Step 3. Infected Tissue Removal

The dentist will thoroughly remove the tissue to prevent the infection from spreading to adjacent teeth.

Step 4. Root Canal Cleaning

Once the dentist removes the tissue, they meticulously clean the root canals, which is important in combating deep decay and preventing future tooth decay.

Step 5. Antibiotic Placement

If the infection is severe, the dentist may place an antibiotic inside the tooth to eliminate all the bacteria-causing infections.

Step 6. Sealing and Filling

The dentist seals the cleaned canals with a material known as gutta-percha to prevent further infection. They may also place a temporary filling to safeguard the tooth.

Step 7. Dental Crown or Restorative Measures

You may need a dental crown or other restorative measures after healing. This improves the procedure’s success rate, preserves your natural tooth and maintains oral health.

How Can You Prevent Root Canal Infection?

Remember that prevention is always better than cure. That’s why we’ve provided a simple guide on maintaining oral health and preventing the need for a root canal procedure.

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene. Brushing and flossing twice daily using high-quality fluoride toothpaste helps to protect your natural tooth, preventing decay and the associated symptoms of root canal infection.
  • Limit Sugar Intake. High sugar consumption contributes to tooth decay, which can cause infected pulp. Minimize your sugar intake to reduce the risk of needing root canal treatment.
  • Avoid Tobacco. Smoking or using tobacco products harms both the soft tissue and connective tissue in your mouth, potentially leading to a dental abscess and necessitating a root canal procedure.
  • Regular Dental Check-Ups. Regular visits to your dental specialist can help detect early signs of decay and treat it before it progresses to the point where a root canal becomes necessary.
  • Healthy Eating Habit. A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can strengthen your teeth and gums, preventing tooth decay and root canal infections.
  • Hydrate. Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist and wash away food particles and bacteria that could otherwise contribute to decay and potential infections.
  • Use Mouthwash. Regular use of antiseptic mouthwash can kill the bacteria in your mouth that can cause gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Use a High-Quality Toothbrush. A good-quality toothbrush removes plaque more effectively. Also, remember to replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles start to fray.
  • Avoid Grinding Teeth. Grinding or clenching your teeth can lead to cracked or chipped teeth, which may expose the pulp chamber and increase the risk of infection.

Take Control of Your Oral Health Today

Understanding the symptoms of root canal infections, their causes, and treatment methods can help improve oral health. Root canal infections can cause severe discomfort, but knowing the signs early can save you from a more painful, complex procedure in the future.

Now that we’ve thrown light on root canal signs, we hope you feel more empowered about maintaining your oral health. Remember, your dentist in Saskatoon is only a call away, ready to address your concerns professionally!