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5 Signs You Need A Root Canal

It can be hard to tell whether or not you need a root canal without visiting the dentist, but these are five of the most common signs you need a root canal. The root canal specialists at Central Ohio Endodontics have years of experience performing root canal therapy. They can help you determine the need for a root canal and perform the procedure. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should contact your general dentist. If they decide that a root canal is the best plan of action, have them refer you to the Columbus root canal specialists at any of our three convenient locations.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is an endodontic procedure where we eliminate infected or inflamed pulp within the tooth, stop decay, and preserve the natural tooth. After removing the infected pulp, we clean the tooth canals and insert a filling into the canals to preserve the tooth and avoid the need for dental implants and bridges. After root canal therapy, you will need to schedule a follow-up appointment with your restorative dentist to restore your tooth permanently. Now that you know what a root canal is, we can share some of the common root canal symptoms that may indicate the need for root canal therapy.

5 Common Root Canal Symptoms

The need for a root canal presents itself differently from patient to patient, but there are some common signs and symptoms we see in many of our patients. It is important to note that while the following symptoms may indicate the need for a root canal, that is not always the case. If you experience any of the following root canal signs, you should schedule an appointment with your general dentist and let them determine if a root canal is the right choice for your dental health.

  • Ongoing tooth pain
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Chipped or cracked tooth
  • Tooth or gum discoloration
  • Increased Pressure or Swelling

Ongoing Tooth Pain

Tooth pain is one of the most common signs you need a root canal. Tooth pain can be ongoing or come in waves, and you may feel it in the tooth itself or the surrounding area, including the jaw, cheek, and gums. Tooth pain is a common symptom of several dental problems and may not automatically mean that a root canal is needed. However, if you experience tooth pain regularly, you should contact your general dentist to have them address the issue and determine the next steps.

Sensitivity to Hot or Cold

Sensitivity to hot and cold is common, but if the pain is unbearable and lingers longer than a few seconds at a time, it could mean something more serious is wrong. Heightened sensitivity to extreme temperatures could indicate that the blood vessels within the pulp of your tooth are inflamed or infected. If this is the case, you may need a root canal to prevent future pain and further infection.

Chipped or Cracked Tooth

A crack or chip in the tooth exposes the inside of your tooth to all kinds of bacteria that could lead to an infection or inflammation. While a crack or chip on its own is not cause for a root canal, if it is not repaired before infection sets in, a root canal may be necessary. To prevent the need for a root canal, we recommend contacting a dentist to evaluate and repair the crack before the tooth becomes infected. If bacteria are able to reach the pulp via the crack or the crack involves the root, then your dentist will likely refer you to an endodontist for evaluation and treatment as needed.

Tooth or Gum Discoloration

You may correct minor tooth and gum discoloration with a simple cleaning from your dentist. However, severe discoloration of the tooth or gum is typically indicative of advanced decay or a degrading pulp, which may be a sign you need a root canal. If you experience discoloration and discomfort, then it is likely that you will require a root canal to correct the issue.


Swelling is another common root canal symptom that we see amongst our patients. Swelling typically occurs within the gum or cheek and may mean that a tooth has become infected and the infection has spread to the surrounding area. If you experience oral swelling accompanied by persisting pain, you should contact your dentist, who will provide you with the necessary treatment, or refer you to a root canal specialist like those at Central Ohio Endodontics.

Contact the Columbus Root Canal Specialists

Central Ohio Endodontics has been the leading root canal specialists in Ohio for over 50 years. We can help alleviate your tooth pain with our tried and proven endodontic procedures. If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should contact your general dentist and have them determine whether or not root canal therapy is the right option for you. If you know you need a root canal, you can contact any of our three convenient locations for more information on our specialized root canal treatment.