6 Common Root Canal Symptoms

As dental technology and medicine have progressed, having a root canal has become just as simple and common as having a cavity filled. In the US alone, there are approximately External link opens in new tab or window15 million root canal treatments performed each year. According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), around 41,000 root canal procedures take place every day.


External link opens in new tab or windowRoot canal services are for patients with a tooth that is damaged in the center and has an infection that causes nerve and pulp damage. For treatment, a dentist qualified in endodontics performs a dental procedure to save and prolong the life of the infected tooth. The endodontist removes the damaged pulp, cleans the inside of the tooth, and fills it with a rubber-like material to fill the empty root.


Afterwards, the tooth is injected with a filling and covered with a crown to seal and protect it. A root canal treatment can last up to 10 years. Root canal services are often necessary if a tooth has endured:

  • Trauma from impact, for example, experienced during a fall

  • Deep tooth decay that has penetrated the center of the tooth

  • Inadequate fillings or faulty crowns causing a leak


Some of the above causes, such as a fall that knocks a tooth, may not need a root canal straight away. Your dentist can decide the appropriate course of action to maintain the tooth's health by taking x-rays and analyzing its internal structure.


Suppose you're unsure whether you require a root canal treatment. In that case, it's essential to visit your dentist to receive a thorough examination. If you think you might be experiencing these symptoms associated with an infected tooth and damaged pulp, here are six common root canal symptoms:

Tooth Discoloration

If you've noticed a tooth changing color, it could be a sign that the tooth's internal structure is damaged. The tooth may appear gray in appearance. It's much easier to distinguish whether a front tooth is discolored instead of one further at the back of the mouth, which is why it helps to have a dentist assess your teeth for you.


The tooth's discoloration could suggest the tooth's pulp has died and that there's no longer a healthy blood supply to the tooth. However, it's important to note that tooth discoloration can also symbolize many other problems, such as tooth staining. Therefore, it's wise to visit the dentist first for an appointment to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Swollen Gums

If you've noticed swelling near a painful tooth, this could be a symptom of a tooth that needs a root canal procedure. Swelling around the tooth could be due a number of issues, including acidic waste buildup due to the dead pulp tissue. The swelling is likely to cause irritation and pain when biting.

Cracked or Chipped Tooth

A chipped or cracked tooth could be caused by intense activities such as sports or something as simple as grinding your teeth at night. A broken tooth may be exposed to bacteria that can set into the tooth and cause an infection. Trauma to your teeth requires a dentist's attention to assess any serious issues, such as a root canal problem.

Temperature Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is often difficult for people to bear, but some people may write it off as an unimportant or common feeling that doesn't require dental attention. However, sensitivity to hot and cold drinks or food could indicate that one of your teeth is infected and needs root canal treatment.

Tooth Decay

Decay occurs from consuming too many sugary snacks and drinks and inadequate oral hygiene. Moreover, if tooth decay isn't stopped in its tracks with a filling at the dentist, it can spread and damage the tooth's root. If you can see a tooth damaged from decay, contact your dentist for an assessment. You may need a filling, a root canal, or both.

Prolonged Sensitivity

A tooth's sensitivity over a prolonged period may indicate a tooth is infected. Tooth sensitivity, such as a sharp pain, may be triggered by putting pressure on the tooth by crunching and grinding food. The only way to be certain a deep-rooted tooth infection isn't causing the sensitivity is by visiting the dentist.


If you've had any of the above symptoms, don't delay scheduling an appointment with your dentist. Infections inside the tooth will progressively get worse without intervention from a dentist.


If you would like a check-up for peace of mind or have some worrying symptoms and require an examination, get in touch with North Pole Dental Workshop to book an appointment today.