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Out of all the dentist horror stories you’ve ever heard, chances are that nothing else gets your teeth tingling like the thought of a root canal.

The problem with root canal infections is that they’re hard to spot and even harder to act on because there are cases that don’t require intensive treatment and others that do. Root canal infections are rather complex. The symptoms that don’t need treatment are frequent experiences, while the instances of the condition that need tending to can’t be identified as easily. How, then, do you know how to address your tooth problem? Keep reading to find out!

Root canal misconception

Before we go into what root canal infections entail, let’s take a look at what they are not. A common, yet incorrect school of thought common amongst most people is that tooth pain is a sign that you need to undergo a root canal treatment. The truth, however, is that you will not know whether this specific treatment is necessary within a glance. As confusing as root canal infections and treatments may be, there’s no need to be anxious about overlooking any symptoms. All you need is to have the right knowledge at hand.

What is a root canal?

Now, before we go further into how you can spot a root canal infection, let’s take a look at what a root canal really is and what it does:

To put it simply, a root canal can refer to two different, yet related things. The first “root canal” refers to the dental procedure that involves having an infected material removed. The procedure is carried out in order to prevent pain from going on any longer while saving the rest of a patient’s mouth.

The root canal procedure described above is what most people understand from the term. However, the “root canal” can also pertain to the inner part of a tooth that can be found in between the pulp and tooth root. The canal contains nerves and blood vessels that nourish the teeth and nerves of the mouth. Another important thing to remember about a root canal (the mouth part) is that it can sense difference factors such as cold, pressure, and heat.

Should severe tooth decay and pulp infection go untreated, they can lead to a root canal infection that will need to be treated with a root canal treatment.

What are the signs that you should watch out for?

Although it can be tricky to spot an infected root canal, there are several telltale symptoms that can help determine whether or not you have a significant problem at hand. Here are two symptoms that you need to watch out for:


When they become infected, your root canals respond by delivering an unmistakable and excruciating amount of acute pain. Seeing as they are filled with nerves and is highly sensitive, you’ll notice the pain. Even if you have yet to experience this type of discomfort, you’ll identify it as root canal pain if chewing, biting, and drinking (or not doing anything all) feels unbearable.

While tooth pain can be linked to a host of dental conditions, spotting a root canal infection is possible by determining the location, duration, onset, and the character of the pain. Remember—regardless of the type of pain you’re having, it’s best to pay a visit to a qualified dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment. While you’re still trying to put a finger on the discomfort, however, here are a few characteristics of root canal infection pain:

  • The pain is so strong that you can’t sleep at night.
  • The pain occurs when you’re putting pressure on the infected tooth.
  • The pain intensifies when you eat or drink something hot or cold.
  • The pain is spontaneous pain and either intermittent or continuous.
  • The pain presents itself as a lingering toothache.
  • The pain is a pulsing toothache.


Aside from an alarming amount of pain, another telltale sign of a root canal infection is swelling. However, the difficulty with spotting a root canal infection through tender and swollen gums is that it can present itself in so many different ways. In some cases, a mouth with a root canal infection can look more or less normal, albeit with a bit of gum tenderness. In other cases, there may be a larger lump that can be seen and felt easily. In some special cases, tender and swollen gums arising from root canal infections can carry out the swelling to the neck or face.

In order to spot root canal infections better through the sign of swollen and tender gums, watch out for these following swelling symptoms:

  • Swelling that lasts for a long period of time;
  • A gum pimple-like boil situated in front of or on the root tip;
  • The tooth that feels a bit taller than adjacent teeth;
  • A recurring pimple that forms on the gums;
  • Pronounced swelling.

Regardless of whether or not you think you have a root canal infection, remember that tooth pain is not normal. Be sure to visit a dentist to get a proper diagnosis so that you can get the treatment you need.

If you’re looking for a local dentist to help you with your root canal infections, get in touch with us today for a free consultation!

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