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When Do I Need a Root Canal?

Root Canal Therapy Dentists in Grand Rapids, MI

A toothache should always be taken seriously by scheduling an appointment with your dentist. A painful tooth might be trying to tell you that there is infection inside one of your teeth that needs root canal therapy.

In this blog post, our Grand Rapids dentist at NorthPointe Family Dental will go over the signs you might need a root canal. Please keep in mind that this blog post was written to help you better understand a tooth root canal and in no way should replace a visit to an experienced root canal dentist.


You might need a root canal if you experience:

  • A tooth darkening in color
  • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Severe toothache
  • Gum tissue near tooth is swollen and/or tender

Sometimes there are no symptoms to warn you of a tooth infection. For this reason, it’s important to schedule a preventative care appointment with your dentist every six months.

What happens during root canal therapy?

The goal of an emergency root canal is to save an abscess tooth so it won’t need extraction. This means that your dentist will need to remove the decaying tooth nerve, along with the infected tooth pulp. Without the root canal procedure, the tooth will die and need to be extracted.

First, your emergency dentist will need to locally anesthetize the tooth so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. You will feel a slight pinch as your doctor injects the pain reliever. Next, your dentist will use a small drill or other dental tool to create a small hole near the top of the tooth.

Once a sufficient opening has been made, your dentist will work to clear the dental pulp infection from your tooth. For good measure, your dentist may flush the inside of your tooth with water and anti-microbial solution to make sure any remaining pulp and bacteria is removed. Afterwards, a temporary filling will be used to seal the small hole.

A few weeks later, you will return to the dentist’s office to have a root canal crown fitted over your tooth so it looks and feels natural.

Who do I call when my tooth hurts?

If your tooth is starting to hurt, it’s important to call an experienced dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you schedule an appointment, the better chance your dentist has of saving your tooth. A dentist will be able to take x-rays and examine your teeth so they can properly diagnose the problem.

You should always schedule an appointment with your dentist at the first sign of dental discomfort. Be sure to describe your symptoms to the person answering your call so they can determine whether emergency dental care is appropriate for your situation.

Dr. Yun DDS at NorthPointe Family Dental is dedicated to helping patients achieve the best outcome after root canal surgery. If you have a toothache and need to know whether root canal treatment is necessary, call to schedule an appointment with our Grand Rapids root canal dentist at (616) 288-6134.