How Do You Tell If You

How Do You Tell If You Need A Root Canal?

TeamEndodontics, Root Canal

A root canal is a tooth-saving dental procedure. It can repair an unhealthy tooth and allow it to stay in place in your mouth for the foreseeable future, and possibly the rest of your life. Root canals may be done proactively to prevent a tooth infection or reactively to treat an existing infection. 

Do you need a root canal? It can be difficult to tell without a professional dental evaluation. But if you have any of the following signs or symptoms, you may need a root canal. 


A toothache is a telltale sign of an infection. At the center of each tooth is a chamber (root canal) filled with soft tissue called dental pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves that sustain the tooth. If bacteria enters the root canal it can invade the dental pulp, resulting in an infection that can cause severe tooth pain. When you have a toothache that doesn’t go away, you most likely need a root canal. 

Discolored Tooth 

Another sign of a tooth that is in need of a root canal is discoloration. If the tooth looks darker than your other teeth, either gray or brown in color, it is often a sign of bleeding inside the tooth or damage to the dental pulp. The tooth may be infected or at risk of infection. 

Extreme or Lingering Sensitivity 

A tooth that is highly sensitive may need a root canal. Sensitivity indicates that the nerves inside the tooth are exposed or lacking protection from sources of cold and heat. This could mean the tooth is cracked, has a deep cavity, or that the enamel is very thin. 

Swollen Gums

Another sign of an infected tooth is swollen gums. If your gums are swollen or tender in a certain area of your mouth, one or more teeth may be infected. A root canal is likely in order to treat the infection and save the tooth. 

Abscess on Gums

An abscess is a white bump, similar to the appearance of a pimple, that may appear on your gums. These indicate that an infection is present. You will need a dental evaluation to determine if the cause of the abscess is an infected tooth or possibly gum disease. An infected tooth will need a root canal, but gum disease is treated through other methods. 

Large Cavity 

A tooth that has a large or deep cavity is at risk of infection. Bacteria may enter the tooth and reach the root canal when a cavity is deep enough, resulting in an infected tooth. An evaluation of the tooth and most likely an X-Ray will determine if the cavity can be treated with a filling or if the tooth will need a root canal. 

Cracked or Broken Tooth 

A tooth that is cracked, chipped, or broken is at risk of infection. Depending on the depth of the crack or the size of the broken portion, a root canal may be necessary. 

What is a Root Canal? 

Root canal treatment involves the removal of the dental pulp from the inside of the tooth. Your dentist will make a small hole in the crown of the tooth, remove the dental pulp, clean and disinfect the root canal, and fill the tooth with a replacement material. A crown will need to be placed over the tooth in most cases for protection. 

Barkoff Dental Provides Root Canal Treatment 

If you experience any of the above signs or symptoms, please contact Barkoff Dental as soon as possible. Root canal treatment applied at the right time can prevent pain and increase the chances of saving your tooth. Even a tooth that is already infected may be saved if you seek treatment as soon as you notice symptoms. 

Call 516-921-1133 or contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Root Canal Treatment

Is a root canal painful?

A root canal can be done with local anesthesia to numb the area and prevent you from feeling any pain. It is no more uncomfortable than a routine cavity filling. If you feel nervous or anxious, sedation can be provided to help you relax. 

How long does a root canal take? 

The average root canal can take between 60-90 minutes. Most are closer to an hour, but a larger tooth with a complex root structure may take closer to an hour and a half. We take the time necessary to perform a thorough root canal in order to prevent the need for retreatment.