You bite down and a tooth suddenly seems sore. Your tooth is sensitive to hot or cold. You wake up in the middle of the night and realize that it was a tooth that woke you up. Are these signs that you might need a root canal?

Yes and no.

It is possible that you will need root canal treatment for any or all of these. Without additional diagnosis, it is impossible to tell.

Is there a way for you to know that you will need a root canal? Actually, yes. If you wake up with a toothache and are swollen you will almost certainly need a root canal or extraction. However, even with these symptoms it is possible that you are dealing with a gum abscess and not a tooth abscess.

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The only way to know for sure is to visit your dentist.

If you are concerned, here are some of the signs that dentists use to decide whether or not a root canal will be needed.

First, if the tooth is tender to biting or putting pressure on it. This often indicates at least inflammation of the tissues around the tooth. It can also mean there is infection of the tooth and tissues.

Swelling is usually a dead giveaway that there is infection. Yes, there can be other causes of swelling but this is by far the most common cause.

If some of the tooth has broken away or you know that there is a hole in the tooth (cavity), AND you have some of the other symptoms, you are very likely going to need root canal treatment.

In the end, you absolutely need to get to the dentist when any of these symptoms pop up. It is often not obvious that a tooth needs a root canal treatment performed. So don’t spend too much time self diagnosing; call and get in ASAP.

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