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3 Signs You Need a Root Canal

February 1, 2024
3 Signs You Need a Root Canal

A root canal is a common dental procedure. When it is performed at the right time, it can often save a tooth that is severely decayed, infected or at risk of infection. 

Do you need a root canal? How do you know? Learn the top 3 signs you need a root canal and contact North County Endodontics if you are experiencing any of them. 

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a procedure that is named for the part of the tooth that it addresses. The root canal is a compartment at the center of a tooth that contains soft tissue called dental pulp. Within the dental pulp are the blood vessels and nerves that provide sustenance and life to the tooth. If bacteria invades the root canal and infects the dental pulp, a tooth infection can occur that puts the health of the tooth at risk. 

Root canal therapy, as it is more commonly called in endodontics, entails the removal of the dental pulp from the tooth. The root canal is cleaned out and disinfected, then filled with a replacement material that is resistant to infection. A crown is typically placed over the tooth to provide protection for the remaining tooth material and the root. 

Do You Need a Root Canal?

Here are the top 3 signs that root canal therapy is needed: 


A toothache is the most obvious sign that you need a root canal. Pain indicates that infection is present within the tooth. A tooth infection needs immediate treatment in order to save the tooth. If a root canal is put off for too long, the infection may cause enough damage that the tooth may not be treatable and will need to be extracted. Contact your dentist right away if you experience a toothache. 

2.Extreme Sensitivity.

If you have a tooth that is extremely sensitive to cold, heat or sugar, it may indicate that the nerves inside the tooth are exposed. This means that there is a deep cavity or a crack in the tooth that has created an opening that leads to the root canal and the dental pulp. If the sensitivity persists after the source is removed, your tooth most likely needs a root canal. Contact your dentist to schedule an evaluation. The sooner the tooth is treated, the greater the chance that it can be saved. 


Damage to the dental pulp inside a tooth can result in internal bleeding. Bleeding inside a tooth can cause the tooth to appear discolored. It may look gray or brown from the inside and stand out from your other teeth in color. A discolored tooth will most likely need a root canal in order to save it, if it can still be saved. Contact your dentist right away if you notice a tooth that is a different color than your other teeth. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Root Canals 

Is a root canal worth it or can I have the tooth pulled?

We always recommend root canal therapy over extraction of a tooth. If a root canal can save the existing tooth it can remain in place for a natural look and function. Extracting the tooth either leaves a gap or requires a more costly replacement. 

How long can I wait to get a root canal?

If your dentist recommends a root canal, it is best to get it done as soon as possible. The sooner the procedure can be performed, the more likely that your tooth will be saved. Waiting too long could result in loss of the tooth. 

Why See an Endodontist for a Root Canal?

An endodontist is a dental specialist who has specific expertise in treating teeth from the inside. North County Endodontics provides tooth-saving services that can restore the health of your teeth in many cases. 

Call 760-944-0048 or contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment. 

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Encinitas, CA 92024
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Encinitas, CA 92024

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