How to find if you’re a Candidate for a Root Canal?

 In Dental Services, Patient Education

If you are experiencing tooth pain that is so severe, what are your options? Can your pain be healed by just salt water rinses and a better oral health regime, or will you require a trip to the dentist or specialist? How do you know if a root canal treatment is your best option for optimal oral health?

If you have a tooth that you suspect of needing a root canal, here are the type of things that you should look out for.


Pain in your teeth: Tooth pain is the first possible sign you may need a root canal. Be aware that root canal pain is different from other types of tooth pain as it gets worse when eating, biting down, or when you apply pressure to your teeth.

Sensitivity: While most people do have sensitivity when eating extreme hot and cold foods, root canal sensitivity occurs all the time – not only while eating hot and cold foods.

Inflamed gums:  The gum area around the infected tooth is painful, swollen, and in some cases may have a small, bump on them.

How does your dentist determine if you need a root canal?

To diagnose whether or not you need a root canal, your dentist will need to determine if the pulp inside the tooth is dead or dying or if it’s possible that the pulp could recover.

What your dentist will do:

Your dentist will ask you about your symptoms, your pain and pain threshold. Topics that your dentist will inquire about are:

  • how long you’ve had the pain
  • when did the pain start
  • how long have you had the pain
  • have you had pain in the past?
  • is the pain more bearable lying down/sitting up(positional pain)
  • what triggers the pain (extreme hot or cold foods, etc).

Once your dentist has gone through their preliminary/pre-qualifying questions (to determine if you’re even a candidate) your dentist will run a series of tests to decipher if there is an infection, pus, blood, or other infectious materials appearing. Once a dentist has identified one or more suspect teeth or fistulas on the gum  (a fistula is a little white, yellow, or red pimple-looking thing that shows up your gum), they will perform additional testing (i.e. thermal , electric pulp testing and x-rays) that can help them zero in on the infected tooth.

How long should you wait to have a root canal done?

It really depends on the availability of your dentist/specialist, however after the initial exam from your dentist, if they’ve determined that you are a candidate for a root canal, ensure to take the antibiotics right away. Because it is an infection and can easily spread to your other teeth, vulnerable tissues, and your heart, it is best to start with the treatment right away.

Whenever you experience tooth pain, it’s a sign that something isn’t right, and it is important to seek the advice and treatment of a dentist as soon as possible.

If you would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to give us a call or contact us to book an appointment.

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