Man on phone with dentist discussing root canal procedure

Relieving Root Canal Infection Symptoms

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

The term "root canal" can strike fear in the heart of dental patients. Don't worry, though! A root canal is a safe and common procedure that is actually intended to relieve your pain, rather than cause it.

If you're experiencing tooth pain and think you may have root canal infection symptoms, see your dentist as soon as possible to get relief. The longer you wait, the less likely the procedure will be effective.

Root Canal Myths

Dentists who specialize in root canals are called endodontists, and the American Association of Endodontists debunks some common myths surrounding the treatment. Are you afraid the root canal procedure will be painful? Pain management techniques, including anesthesia, are part of the treatment and help make removing the infected portion of the tooth as painless as possible. In fact, you may experience more pain if you leave the tooth untreated.

You might wonder if extracting your tooth altogether is a better option than a root canal. Most likely, your dentist and endodontist will tell you that keeping your natural tooth is always the best option to preserve your smile and avoid complicated dental work. Root canal treatment can keep your tooth functioning for the rest of your life.

Is Your Tooth Infected?

Root canal infection symptoms range from mild to severe and may become more intense the longer you live with the discomfort. You may feel pain after eating hot or cold foods, which could linger for 30 seconds or more. The pain may feel like constant throbbing or pressure on your tooth, in which case eating and chewing might aggravate the tooth even more.

A dental visit is necessary to treat this kind of tooth pain. Without treatment, the infection could progress, causing swelling of the gums and sensitivity. In some cases, you may have an abscessed tooth and require root canal treatment immediately.

Rarely, a tooth may show no symptoms at all and still need a root canal. Your dentist may notice discoloration of the tooth and suggest an X-ray to examine the root tip area. In this instance, it's possible that a mouth injury has traumatized the tooth. Most often, root canals become necessary after an untreated cavity has caused deep decay in the soft layer in the center of the tooth, a condition called pulpitis.

Results of Root Canal Treatment

Root canals can have up to a 90 percent success rate if done following standard protocols, according to the British Endodontic Society. It is normal to experience mild pain after completion, and the endodontist will advise you on when to call if your pain is beyond normal. In some circumstances, like if the tooth has a crack that was previously undetected, the treatment can fail and require further attention.

If you have a tooth infection, your endodontist will become your tooth saving specialist. These dentists are trained in treating your pain and keeping your natural teeth intact. If you have any severe tooth infection symptoms, consult a dental professional immediately.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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