Category: General Dentistry, Root Canal

5 Warning Signs That You Might Need an Emergency Root Canal

a woman who need an emergency root canal due to severe tooth pain

Is your tooth causing you a lot of pain and discomfort? If so, the pulp inside your tooth could be infected, and your dentist will need to perform a root canal treatment to fix it. But not all toothache needs a root canal, so how can you tell whether you need the treatment?

Here at Mint Dental MN, we share these five serious signs that you may need an emergency root canal. Schedule an appointment with us if you are experiencing most of the following symptoms. Our dentists are ready to help you and give you comfort!

What Is An Emergency Root Canal?

a woman who need an emergency root canal due to severe tooth pain

A root canal is a standard emergency dental procedure that can save a badly damaged or infected tooth. It keeps your natural teeth but without the tooth’s nerve. So, instead of pulling out your tooth, a root canal procedure removes the dead nerve tissue and seals the hollow chambers with gutta-percha (a plastic substance that comes from the Malaysian percha tree). 

If you do not treat your damaged tooth, the tissue around the tooth will get infected, which could lead to an abscess, which can cause swelling inside the tooth. 

5 Signs You Need an Emergency Root Canal

The American Association of Endodontists (AAE) says that more than 41,000 root canals are done daily. If you do the math, more than 15 million root canals are done yearly. 

If you ignore your painful tooth and the pain worsens and makes you suffer, please decide to see your general dentist. You don’t have to wait for your damaged tooth to get worse to be able to get a root canal treatment. 

So, if you are unsure, here are five signs that you need an emergency root canal: 

1. Extreme tooth pain

If you’re experiencing severe tooth pain that doesn’t go away after a few hours, it could be a sign that you need an emergency root canal. 

Your tooth most likely became infected and the nerve inside your tooth got damaged. And that infection can spread to your gums and jawbone. As a result, it can cause extreme tooth pain, gum disease, or even an abscess that could lead to tooth extraction.

However, an infection on your root canal might not always be the cause of your tooth pain. Here are some other possibilities:

  • Tooth decay
  • Broken tooth
  • Damaged or loose fillings
  • A gum disease
  • Impacted wisdom tooth
  • Sinus-related toothache

Keep an open mind and resist the urge to change your mind if the pain disappears. An infection may have spread and put you at greater risk if you have sudden numbness or a lack of sensation in the infected tooth. 

Make an appointment with your dentist just to be sure.

2. Your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold

Do you feel pain and sensitivity that lasts long after eating hot or cold drinks and food? It could be another sign that you need an emergency root canal. 

People with cracked or chipped teeth usually feel pain and sensitivity. Each time you bite, chew, crunch, or grind your teeth, your enamel surrounds them to protect the teeth during regular activities. But, in the event of enamel loss, you will feel pain in your teeth when you consume hot or cold foods or beverages. It can signify that your tooth’s nerves and blood vessels are harmed or infected.

Read this article to find out how to protect a broken or chipped tooth.

3. Your teeth have darkened

If you notice that one or more of your teeth are darker than the rest, it could signify a pulp infection. When your tooth pulp is infected, it could die because it doesn’t get enough blood flow and nutrients. As a result, it can make your tooth look grayish-black. 

You might need root canal treatment if you suffer severe symptoms like pain, tenderness, and a gradual darkening of your teeth. 

4. You have a fever and/or toothache

Root canals usually begin with a cavity. And when the bacteria grows, it will spread to the tooth’s nerve and develop into an abscess, which can cause swelling inside the tooth. If the infection in your root canal is not treated quickly, it can spread throughout your body and cause fever. 

Infections usually go away after taking antibiotics. However, there are times antibiotics won’t work anymore. There’s a high chance you need a root canal treatment if you have a fever and a toothache at the same time. 

Don’t wait for it to get worse. Call your dentist right away to make an appointment. 

5. Your gums have swollen

The appearance of swollen gums or an abscess near the painful tooth is a possible sign that a root canal is needed. The infection typically begins in the tooth’s inner pulp and can be triggered by tooth decay or dental trauma. 

These common signs that you have an abscess are:

  • Swollen gums and face
  • Toothache
  • Fever
  • Pain in jaw
  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Pain while chewing

An abscess will not heal on its own, and if left untreated, the infection will spread throughout your body and can be dangerous to your life. 

Important read: bad breath after wisdom tooth removal? Do this!

Do You Need An Emergency Root Canal Treatment, But You Have No Insurance? 

Don’t worry, at Mint Dental, we welcome new patients, even without insurance. Read more information about this service here

Signs You Probably Don’t Need an Emergency Root Canal

A root canal may seem like the only way to fix a tooth that is decayed, in pain, or has an infection. However, a root canal treatment is only sometimes the best option for everyone.

Here are some signs that you don’t need a root canal treatment:

  • When antibiotics heal your toothache and abscess.
  • You don’t have a large cavity. 
  • Minor fractures that do not appear in x-rays.
  • Short-term pain from eating or drinking hot and cold. 
  • You had a root canal treatment before and the pain has returned. This could indicate a failed root canal treatment, read all the symptoms here.
a patient visits her dentist regularly to avoid emergency root anal

How To Avoid an Emergency Root Canal?

If you take good care of your teeth every day and visit your dentist for checkups every six months, you will be less likely to prevent an emergency root canal. So, good oral hygiene is the best way to avoid needing root canal treatment. 

Use the following practices on how you can avoid an emergency root canal: 

1. Brush your teeth at least twice daily

To avoid cavities needing root canals, you must keep your teeth healthy and clean. Brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice daily or after each meal, including your tongue, gums, and the insides of your cheeks.

2. Floss your teeth at least once a day

Brushing your teeth is not enough because there are certain areas that a brush cannot reach. But flossing helps remove plaque, bacteria, and stuck foods between your teeth. 

The best time to floss is right before bedtime so your teeth stay clean for at least a couple of hours. Do this at least once a day. 

3. Use fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash.

Fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash helps prevent tooth decay and cavities by strengthening the enamel layer and removing plaque. Brushing or rinsing twice a day that contains fluoride is easy and affordable to avoid needing a root canal emergency. 

4. Get your cavity filled.

If you have a big hole cavity in one of your teeth, you should get it filled. However, you may not need a root canal treatment if your dentist only recommends getting your cavities filled if you have minor tooth decay or cavities that haven’t reached the pulp of your tooth. 

5. Wear your mouthguard

Are you a physically active person? If you are, you should consider wearing a mouthguard to protect your teeth from fractures and root exposure. Accidents can happen when you’re playing sports or doing other things. 

The same goes for people who clench or grind their teeth while sleeping. When you grind your teeth or are suffering from TMJ, the enamel wears away quickly, making your teeth feel sore and sensitive. 

A dental night guard protects your enamel by putting a barrier between your teeth. Your dentist can make you a custom dental night guard that fits well and won’t wake you up while you sleep.

6. Limit the consumption of acidic and sugary drinks and foods

There are many different kinds of bacteria in the mouth, and sugar is one of them. When oral bacteria consume sugar and produce acid, the enamel on your teeth becomes weakened, and cavities form. 

Limit your intake of acidic beverages and sugary foods to avoid cavities. Some of these foods tend to get stick to your teeth. If you eat something sweet, try to rinse your mouth soon after.

Get your teeth checked and cleaned regularly.

Without regular dental care, you could develop an infection in your teeth, so it’s crucial to make an appointment with your dentist because they can identify the problems with your teeth. 

One of the best ways to avoid root canal treatment is to have your dentist check and clean your teeth once a year. 

Does your root canal need retreatment? Here are 5 serious reasons why a previous root canal needs to be redone.

Emergency Root Canal Near me

If you are looking for a dentist that can perform an emergency root canal treatment near you, and are you living in or nearby Minneapolis, MN, then please reach out to our dentistry in Edina. We welcome new patients, with and without insurance.  


Even though these signs can help you figure out if there’s something wrong with a tooth, it’s almost impossible for a patient to know for sure if they need a root canal. 

If you wait too long to get your tooth fixed, the problem will always get worse. You have a better chance of keeping your natural teeth if you visit your dentist regularly and catch dental care problems before they hurt.