When most people hear the term root canal, they cringe, but did you know that the term actually has two different meanings? The Dictionary by Merriam-Webster defines a root canal as both “the part of the pulp cavity lying in the root of a tooth” and “a dental operation to save a tooth by removing the contents of its root canal and filling the cavity with a protective substance.” So if your tooth’s root canal (the former definition) becomes infected, you’ll need a root canal procedure (the latter definition). It’s important to familiarize yourself with root canal infection symptoms so that if you begin to experience the warnings signs of infection, you can seek treatment quickly to prevent future damage.
Root Canal Infection Symptoms
If you feel a small sting in your tooth when it’s exposed to something hot or cold, there’s a chance your tooth’s root canal could be infected. Underneath your tooth’s enamel is dentin, which contains tiny nerve endings. When your enamel becomes damaged, the nerves inside your teeth become sensitive to temperature and sometimes even pressure.
Teeth with damaged enamel but healthy root canals will most likely only feel pain for a few moments. But if the pain lingers long after the hot or cold exposure as a toothache, there’s a chance your root canal is infected. Some people experience toothaches as a dull, throbbing sensation, while others feel a sharp, intense pain. You might notice that your toothache feels worse at night because when you lay down horizontally, blood rushes to your head more rapidly. This places more pressure on your tooth.
Bad bacteria are the cause of most infections, and a root canal infection is no exception. One telltale sign of a root canal is bad breath because bacteria emit a foul odor. If your tooth’s enamel becomes damaged from a cavity, trauma, or erosion, bacteria can enter your root canal and cause an unpleasant-smelling infection.
If ignore your root canal infection symptoms, a small pocket of puss called an abscess can form underneath your gums. At first, you might notice a bump underneath your gum or your cheek might be tender and swollen. When an abscess forms, it is a sign that the root canal infection has spread.
Is your tooth turning a darker shade than the rest of your teeth? If you notice that your tooth develops a gray or blue tone, it could be a sign that you have a dead tooth. This means your tooth has no access to blood flow due to decay, trauma, or a root canal infection.
Generally, the human body does a good job of fighting off infections. However, your body has no way of getting antibodies inside a tooth. If an infection spreads to your tooth’s root canal and nerve, there is a good chance your tooth’s nerve will die. If the dead nerve is left untreated, it can harbor infection-causing bacteria. In some cases, your dentist might have to extract your dead tooth or perform a root canal to remove the dead pulp and infection.
If you’re experiencing root canal infection symptoms, contact a dental office with an experienced team right away. At Duff Family Dental, we will help ease your pain and get your teeth in the best condition possible. We provide an array of general and cosmetic dental services, including regular cleanings, crowns, implants, and removable dentures. If you live near Springfield, Missouri, make an appointment by calling us at 417-501-8601 or contact us online today!