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4 Subtle Warning Signs You Need a Root Canal

An infected tooth is an unpleasant surprise for anyone, especially those who don’t have dental coverage. If you have suspicions that one of your teeth is decaying, it’s important that you seek out a dentist as soon as possible. The longer you leave the infection to fester, the more painful it will become, and you risk losing the tooth for good. 

Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton and Dr. Peter Grinc in Washington, DC, can make sure that you get a root canal if needed and that your tooth is restored to look as good as new. 

Subtle signs of tooth root infection 

Bacteria have to eat through the upper layers of your teeth before they can infect the pulp within, and there’s numerous warning signs before this happens. Unfortunately, many people overlook tooth decay until it’s too late. While a root canal can help save your tooth, you’ll need to act in a timely manner. 

This means that early signs of infection cannot be ignored. Otherwise, you could lose your tooth entirely, or the infection could spread to other parts of the body. With that in mind, here are four subtle warning signs that you might need a root canal procedure.

1. Severe toothache 

A toothache is never a good sign. Toothaches that last more than a few days and have no clear cause should always warrant a visit to the dentist, especially if the pain is severe and worsens when you chew. You may also notice your tooth is sensitive to temperature, worsening the pain and discomfort. 

2. Gum inflammation

Tender, swollen gums often indicate periodontitis, or infection of the gums. This is a problem on its own, but brushing and flossing won’t help if your tooth is already infected. Gum disease and tooth infections go hand-in-hand, often causing or contributing to each other. Untreated gum disease can cause caries (cavities) below the gumline, giving bacteria easy access to the root of your tooth.

3. Sores on the gums

These pimplelike sores, also known as gum boils, often indicate infection of the gum or tooth root. Not only do these sores eventually pop and ooze, but they can cause bad breath and a foul taste. In severe cases, these can develop into larger and more painful tooth abscesses that serve as a gateway to your tooth root. 

4. Dark discoloration

A degree of some discoloration is expected as you age, especially if you enjoy dark sodas, wines, and coffee. Darker areas of discoloration on the teeth could be early-stage cavities, which should be checked and filled before the tooth decay can go any deeper and expose the root. 

When to consider a root canal

When treated promptly, tooth decay and cavities don’t require root canals. However, once the infection reaches the blood vessels and nerves within your teeth, you can expect a painful countdown until the tooth dies and falls out. 

If you suspect that your tooth or gums have become infected, don’t waste any time seeking dental treatment. To get in touch with Dr. Culotta-Norton and her team, call 202-833-1111 to schedule an appointment, or visit the contact page for more information. 

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