Why do I need a root canal

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There are several reasons for root canal. The over-riding reason is that the nerve in the centre of the tooth is either giving problems, or, it might give problems.

Extensive decay

With tooth decay there is a layer of bacteria which penetrates further than the actual destruction. Once the decay is near the nerve there will be bacteria contaminating the nerve. This causes inflammation, and pressure builds up inside the tooth. This pressure cuts of the blood supply to the nerve, and so the nerve dies. The throbbing sensation often felt is the pressure rising with each heart beat. That is why it can get worse with any exertion. It can also get worse whilst lying down, as the blood pressure to the head is increased.

Broken teeth

If you have an accident, or break a tooth biting into something hard, you can expose the tooth to the mouth. If this is simply a tiny spot, we can try simple fillings, if bigger, it is wise to have the tooth root treated, as it is likely to give problems

Following fillings or crown work

As mentioned above, the nerve can be contaminated by bacteria from decay. Often we can remove the decay but it is too late as the bacteria have penetrated too far. In addition, the removal of the decay will increase the inflammation inside the tooth. The combination of this and any bacteria can push the nerve over its limit.In a similar manner, any extensive drilling, for example crown preparations, can cause inflammation which can cause the death of the nerve.

Prevention of later problems

If we have to cut teeth back very extensively, we can end up either reaching the nerve, or being exceptionally close to it. In these cases the tooth would almost certainly give problems afterwards, and we might then have to drill through a new crown, leaving it weaker. In these case we elect to root treat the tooth before the crown.In a similar vein, if a tooth has consistently been given problems, and it needs crowned, we will root treat it first, as it is easier to get a good result.

What symptoms might indicate that I need root canal?

The symptoms of root canal do vary considerably, and if you are in doubt, you should consult your dentist. We do provide emergency appointments for non-registered patients. The symptoms of teeth needing root canal can include;

Sensitivity to hot and cold

If the sensitivity only lasts a few seconds, and is a sharp pain, you will probably just need a filling, but if the pain lasts more than a couple of minutes, tehcahnces are you need root canal work

Pain on biting

Pain on biting can be related to several dental issues, but if there is an abscess under a tooth, biting on the tooth puts pressure on the abscess, causing pain.


Swelling around a tooth is most frequently associated with an infection. This infection can be from a root canal related infection, although there are other types of infection

Bitter Taste

Sometimes you can get an infection which connects with you mouth. You can then experience a nasty taste. Some people will notice a little spot that when pressed tastes nasty. Again this can also be related to other infections.

Constant Throbbing Pain

A constant throbbing is characteristic of an infection, which is under pressure. This is a very typical situation.

No symptoms at all

Sometimes the nerve can die, and give no pain what so ever. This is one of the reasons why dentists take routine x-rays, especially if they are thinking of crowning teeth

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