7 Signs You May Need A Root Canal

root canal

Every year dentists perform over 15 million root canals. But, how do you know if you need a root canal? And, if you do, what exactly is a root canal?

What Is A Root Canal?

A root canal is a procedure to fix a tooth and is part of the tooth’s anatomy. The cavity inside the tooth that houses the nerve is called the root canal. 

When infection or a cavity reaches the nerve, it becomes painful. A root canal is also the process of removing the bad pulp, cleaning the root canal, filling and sealing the space.

Once the root canal is complete, your dentist will generally place a crown on the tooth for protection. It is vital to address tooth pain immediately because an infection can spread causing further health complications.

Tooth Anatomy 101

If you’re asking yourself, how do I know if I need a root canal, you need to first understand the basic anatomy of a tooth. 

The hard, white outside of the tooth is the enamel. Dentin is the layer under the enamel. When hot or cold substances enter the dentin layer through damaged enamel, it causes pain. 

Under the dentin layer is the pulp. It contains the nerves and blood vessels. At the base of the root is the cementum. This is what connects the tooth to the gum. 

Pros And Cons Of A Root Canal

Every dental procedure has pros and cons. For this reason, it’s essential to discuss your concerns with your dentist. 


  • Relieves your tooth pain
  • Stops the loss of bone around your tooth
  • Allows you to keep the tooth
  • Less expensive than an implant


  • It can be uncomfortable sitting with your mouth open the whole time
  • Small risk of an infection

How Have Root Canals Changed?

How do you know if the tooth pain is an infection in the root canal? Tooth pain or tenderness can be several things, so what are the signs you need a root canal?

Years ago, just the words root canal would make people cringe. Numbing medications are far more advanced as well as the technology. As a result, root canals are painless, and recovery time is minimal. 

Root canals were also costly many years ago. However, today they are more affordable, and most dentists offer payment options. 

7 Signs You Need A Root Canal

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is crucial to tell your dentist. 

1. Severe Tooth Pain

While you should mention any tooth or mouth pain to your dentists, specific pains can mean you need a root canal. For example, spontaneous pain that comes in waves typically means you have a dead or infected tooth. 

In addition, specific positions, such as laying down or bending over, can increase pain. If these positions cause severe pain, it might be root canal pain.

2. Bumps On Your Gums

If you have little pimple-like bumps on your gums, you may have an infected tooth requiring a root canal. These bumps are called fistulas. 

3. Temperature Sensitivity

Just because you have tooth pain from a hot or cold substance doesn’t mean you need a root canal. However, if the pain lingers long after you swallow the food or drink, it often means a root canal is necessary.

4. Swollen Or Tender Gums

If you have a tooth infection, your gums will typically swell around the tooth. However, brushing too hard and flossing often causes swelling and tenderness. But if the gums remain swollen or tender to the touch, you may need a root canal.

5. Gums Are Darkening

If your gums are darkening, it is a sign of gum decay which means a tooth is dying. Darkening of the gums is also a sign that you need a root canal. 

6. An Abscess

An abscess is a dark spot on an x-ray. It is a hole in the jawbone caused by an infection that prevents the bone from growing. This typically requires a root canal.

7. Broken Or Cracked Tooth

Another sign you may need a root canal is a broken or cracked tooth. Maybe there was a trauma that chipped or cracked the tooth, causing inflammation and infection. Perhaps the tooth is so infected it died, leading to a crack or chip. To save the tooth,  a root canal is often necessary. 

Root Canal Recovery Time

After your root canal, you may have minor discomfort for a few days. While this is normal, if it persists after a week, contact your dentist. 

If You’re Asking Yourself, “Do I Need A Root Canal” Don’t Wait 

If you are experiencing any of these signs, they could be symptoms of a severe infection. Call Gardens Family Dentistry and schedule an appointment right away. Dr. Dalia Al-Azzawi treats root canals, does teeth cleanings, fillings, implants, and more for the entire family.

Contact us today and find out if you need a root canal or other dental procedure. 






Cosmetic And General Dentistry: What’s The Difference?

general and cosmetic dentistry

Do you have a loose or broken tooth? Maybe you think veneers will improve your self-confidence? Or perhaps you need an annual check-up. But, how do you know if you should see a cosmetic dentist or a general dentist?

What Is General Dentistry?

The field of general dentistry focuses on the health of your teeth. Dentists in this branch educate patients young and old on caring for their teeth. Regular check-ups and proper tooth and gum care will prevent future dental and health issues. 

If you are experiencing tooth pain, you will typically visit a general dentist. Typically, general dentistry procedures include:

  • Fillings
  • Root Canals
  • Dental crowns
  • Extractions
  • Implants
  • Preventative care

Some general dentists also perform cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening. 

What Is Cosmetic Dentistry?

A cosmetic dentist focuses on improving the look of people’s smiles. General cosmetic dentistry requires dentists to take additional courses and be accredited by the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. 

Because a cosmetic dentist focuses on your appearance, they also offer teeth whitening procedures. However, they provide many services that general dentists don’t and include the following. 

  • Complete smile makeovers
  • Veneers
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Implants
  • Dental Restoration

Examples Of Cosmetic And General Dentistry Procedures

Now that you know the difference between cosmetic and general dentistry let’s explain what each procedure is.

Regular Checkups With A General Dentist

Your overall health needs to have yearly checkups with your general dentist. At these checkups, a dentist looks for gum issues, cavities, and any abnormalities. 

Teeth Cleaning With A General Dentist

Dental cleanings are generally part of your yearly checkup. During your cleaning, the dentist assistant will scrape, which removes plaque and cleans your gums. The dentist will then examine the teeth and address any issues.

Filling Cavities In General Dentistry

One of the most common procedures in general dentistry is filling cavities. Getting a filling will stop a cavity from worsening, which can result in tooth loss. 

Root Canals In General Dentistry

Some general dentists have special training in the interior health of teeth. As a result, they can perform root canals. During a root canal, dentists remove the decayed tissue from inside your tooth. Afterward, your dentist will seal the hole to prevent further issues. 

Teeth Whitening In General Cosmetic Dentistry

A cosmetic dentist is specially trained in teeth whitening. Sometimes called bleaching, teeth whitening in a cosmetic dentist’s office can achieve optimal results because of the higher concentration of whitening components. 

Veneers Through A Cosmetic Dentist

Veneers are very popular because they look most like your natural teeth. A cosmetic dentist attaches the veneers to the front of your teeth to cover discoloration. Veneers are generally durable and will last you a long time.

Braces And General Cosmetic Dentistry

Braces are also a service in general cosmetic dentistry. Teeth become misaligned for various reasons, and braces can straighten them again. While traditional braces are metal, Invisalign is clear and can be removed for short periods.

Does Cosmetic And General Dentistry Overlap?

Some dental procedures are often used in both general cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry. 

For example, tooth bonding is often used to fix a cavity. However, it is considered a cosmetic dental procedure.

Dentures, in general, cosmetic dentistry, are used to improve your appearance. But, a general dentist may use dentures to improve your bite or a speech issue. The same goes for bridges which are an alternative to dentures. 

Should I See A Cosmetic Dentist Or A General Dentist?

While general cosmetic dentistry focuses on the aesthetic look of the teeth, general dentistry treats and prevents dental health issues. However, they both can perform a variety of similar procedures.

Typically, if you are struggling with tooth or gum pain, you call your general dentist. But, your dentist may offer a variety of services that a cosmetic dentist also offers. If your dentist can’t help, they typically refer you to a cosmetic dentist.

General Cosmetic Dentistry Is An Art Form

Cosmetic dentistry has come extremely far in the last 20 years. Although science plays a significant role in the advances, so does artistry. Your smile is a big part of your appearance. For this reason, cosmetic dentistry needs to keep your uniqueness. 

Together you and your dentist plan and design a personal smile that will keep you smiling for many years to come. Cosmetic dentistry benefits include a natural, seamless, and long-lasting white smile. 

Is Cosmetic And General Dentistry Covered By Insurance?

According to the CDC, in 2019, half of Americans with private insurance also had dental coverage. However, dental insurance typically does not cover crowns, veneers, or dental bonding. 

When cosmetic dentistry is needed for restorative health, some insurance plans will typically cover a portion of the cost. Furthermore, a cosmetic dentist may charge more for things like fillings. This is because they are more concerned with your appearance and may use composite fillings. 

Discover The Services We Offer At Gardens Family Dentistry

We provide a wide range of services and dental treatments to meet the needs of your entire family. Contact us today to learn more about our services and make an appointment.