How to Know You Need a Root Canal

Last summer, we discussed why root canal therapy is beneficial for patients who need it. The chief reason is that living with toothache pain is awful for the person suffering from it. Often, the only cure for this pain and suffering is a root canal. That’s why our caring dentists at the Placerville Dental Group examine painful teeth and immediately inform you of all your treatment options. But how do you know if you really need a root canal and what does a root canal procedure entail?

When You Need a Root Canal

Our Placerville dentists examine the tooth for:

  • discoloration,
  • swelling and tenderness of the gums,
  • sensitivity to hot or cold.

At times, an infected tooth may not cause pain, but our dentists notice warning signs at your regular exam and cleaning. We notify you right away if we see any reason for further examination.

How Dental Pulp Gets Infected

Dental pulp is the soft tissue inside your teeth made up of nerves, blood vessels and other connective tissue. Each tooth is kept alive by good blood flow that nourishes the tooth’s pulp. If the tooth’s enamel is breached, and decay develops into an infection, the pulp will die. Without immediate treatment, pus from the infection builds up, creating a painful abscess. At this point there is increased risk of the infection affecting the jawbone and other parts of the mouth or even the body. Death has resulted from ignoring tooth ache!

Root Canal Procedure Explained

Here are the steps in a root canal procedure:

  • Treat the infection by opening the tooth and removing dead pulp and tissue.
  • Irrigate the tooth with water and antibacterial medicine.
  • Cap the tooth with a crown, overlay or inlay, depending on the severity.

Completing the root canal procedure takes from one to three visits, depending on the difficulty of the case. If a crown or overlay is required, you are given a temporary cap that is replaced with a permanent one made of porcelain after it is sent from the dental lab.

Root Canal After Care

After your root canal procedure, be careful not to bite or chew on the treated tooth until it has recovered. This prevents unnecessary pain and limit the chance of undoing any repair. Keep brushing and flossing as normal, just be gentle around the treatment site.

Durability of Root Canal Repairs

Ideally, the repaired tooth lasts a lifetime. If the patient has a good oral care routine and visits the Placerville Dental Group twice a year for cleanings and exams, there’s no reason to believe your repaired tooth can’t last the rest of your life. It is not unusual, however, for an overlay or crown to need replacement after twenty years or so. Poor dental habits may not ruin the dental restoration, but it could lead to bone loss that ruins the jawbone underneath it. So even if you have a “false tooth,” you still need to take care of it and all your other teeth. With good care from our local Placerville dentists and and a daily oral care routine at home, your teeth should continue to be healthy and pain free.


  1. Kiara

    I went to the dentist 4 weeks ago and had a filling put in. My tooth still hurts and my dentist said it’s because the decay was close to the nerve. Will my pain get better? It’s mostly sore in the morning and night time. The pain is very bad. What do I do? Do I need root canal?

    • Dr. Cheema

      Hi Kiara 

      If the tooth is still bothersome after the filling, most likely you need a root canal. Yet to be sure, an x-ray and clinical exam is required. We can help you with your pain by doing a complimentary exam. Call us today as we are seeing emergencies.  


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