Having a toothache can feel scary when you don’t know what’s wrong. When your tooth hurts or appears damaged, it’s important to know what to do next. Here’s how to know if you need an emergency root canal.

How Do I Know What’s Wrong?

If your tooth suddenly hurts or doesn’t look the way that it normally does, it’s important to find out what’s going on as soon as possible. The best way to find out what’s causing the issue is to see a dental professional. Your dentist can do an exam on your tooth and the surrounding area as well as use x-rays, if needed, to see what’s going on inside your tooth and under your gum line. Many things that can cause a tooth to hurt or become discolored are actually happening beneath the surface and need to be diagnosed by a dental professional.

What’s the Difference Between a Filling and a Root Canal?

If your dentist discovers that you have a damaged tooth, they may recommend a filling, or if it’s more serious they might recommend that you see an endodontist for a root canal. What’s the difference between a filling and a root canal?

A filling is a simple procedure that removes the damaged area of your tooth, typically on the surface, cleans your tooth, and then seals it to restore the tooth’s appearance and prevent future decay.

A root canal is needed when the damage goes deeper and has affected the pulp or root of the tooth. With a root canal, the dentist or endodontist will use special tools to remove the infected pulp of your tooth. Similar to a cavity, they will then clean your tooth, and fill it and/or add a dental crown to seal it and protect it from further damage or infection. Needing a root canal can be a dental emergency, so it’s important to seek treatment right away when you notice symptoms.

What Are Signs that I Need a Root Canal?

Now that you know the difference, you’re probably wondering how to know if you need an emergency root canal, so that you can act quickly. Signs that your tooth may need a root canal as soon as possible include severe toothache, discomfort when chewing or applying pressure to the tooth, prolonged sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures, discoloration of the tooth and swelling or soreness of the gum tissue around the tooth.

When Should I See an Endodontist?

Some dentists can perform root canals, but endodontists are specialists in the treatment of the root of the tooth, so your dentist may refer you to an endodontist to ensure that you receive the optimal care.

If you’re experiencing severe, prolonged or undiagnosed dental discomfort or if a tooth appears seriously damaged, it can be a good idea to go ahead and call an endodontist right away and ask them to walk you through how to know if you need an emergency root canal. They’ll help you determine your next steps and do their best to get things addressed quickly so that you can start feeling better as soon as possible.

Call our Lee's Summit dental office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.