When a Root Canal is Needed?

When a Root Canal is Needed?

According to the majority of people, root canals are not considered to be a favorite dental treatment. Despite many people’s disdain towards having a root canal, this procedure is actually highly beneficial for their oral health and can prevent much more serious problems from occurring. While you may find this hard to believe, consider this: 

Root canals are needed when a dental pulp infection occurs inside the tooth. Dental pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth composed of the tooth nerve and blood vessels. These blood vessels connect the tooth to the rest of the mouth, as well as the body. Therefore, when the pulp layer becomes infected, this poses a threat to the surrounding teeth and the entire body. 

Pulp infections occur as a result of naturally occuring bacteria in the mouth that attack the tooth’s enamel with acidic waste products. While some level of this is normal, problems occur when bacterial populations grow out of control, causing concentrated amounts of these acidic waste products to erode the tooth enamel. This leads to a cavity and if the cavity gets deep enough, then it leads to a pulp infection, which leads to a root canal. 

If a root canal is needed, these three symptoms may be present: 


Woman with toothache

Since pulp infections occur on the inside of the tooth where the nerve is located, they can be extremely painful. Some people may experience a toothache that comes on suddenly or that lasts for a few days. Toothaches associated with pulp infections are also usually progressive, meaning that the pain gets worse as time passes. 

However, tooth pain can also take the form of tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity is a sharp, sudden pain caused by a hot or cold temperature, as well as extremely sugary foods. Tooth sensitivity differs slightly from toothaches in that it occurs as a quick response, while toothaches will generally last longer and are classified as prolonged pain. 


Pulp infections can also cause the entire tooth to become discolored as a result of the dying or dead pulp. A single tooth that has a darker yellow, light brown, grey, or black color can be an indication that a root canal is needed. 

Gum Problems

Although pulp infections take place inside of the tooth, the excess bacteria can also cause the gum tissue around the affected tooth to become inflamed. This can cause the gums to be tender to the touch, swollen, or just generally sore. In some cases, there may also be pimples or discharge along the gum line. All these things can indicate the need for a root canal. 

As you can, there is no one symptom that signals a root canal is needed. Ultimately, root canals are restorative procedures that are needed when the tooth pulp has become infected as a result of severe decay. Tooth pain, discoloration, and gum problems can all indicate a pulp infection has taken place and a root canal is needed. However, these symptoms can also indicate other dental issues, therefore your local dentist will need to thoroughly assess  your mouth to determine the need for a root canal. 

Dr. Sachdeva Pushpa is a Nairobi dentist who is constantly upgrading her skills by attending hands-on courses internationally. This allows her to provide her patients with the latest dental techniques and technology. In addition to restorative dental treatments, she works to improve the surrounding soft tissues through lip augmentation, reduction of  peri-oral lines, narrowing of square jaws, Fillers and Facial Thread lifting. She also uses Botox to reduce the occurrence of Bruxism and to reduce “gummy smiles”.  

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