Sometimes the first sign of the need for root canal treatment appears on an x-ray, where your regular dentist will notice a change in the density of the bone at the apex of the tooth. But usually you will know or become slowly aware of the need for treatment in perhaps one of several ways.
You will start to notice toothache pain. Many people who need a root canal will start to feel pain at the tooth’s site. The pain is usually especially present when you are chewing food. Its intensity can range from just very mild to extreme. It may include a throbbing component. Its character may change as you vary your posture (standing up vs. bending over).
Feel sensitivity to hot and cold. A tooth that needs a root canal is likely to be very sensitive to hot and cold food items. The tooth may feel irritated even after the food item has been removed from the mouth.
Look at the gums surrounding the infected tooth. You may notice that the gums are swollen or that they feel tender when touched. The amount of swelling can range from very slight (just an area of tenderness) to quite pronounced. It may even extend into your face or neck.
Dentists often discover these types of problem teeth during routine x-ray evaluations. In the most obvious cases, the dental x-ray will show a dark spot right at the tip of the tooth’s root. This dark spot, termed “radiolucency,” is an indication that the density of the bone tissue in this region has lessened due to its response to the infection housed within the tooth.
If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, you should establish contact with your dentist’s office and make arrangements to be evaluated and treated as they determine is necessary. It takes a dentist’s judgment, after sorting through all of the various symptoms you report and display, to determine if it (or possibly an entirely different dental procedure) seems to be the appropriate solution.
In the case where root canal treatment will be required, there is little you can do on your own to relieve your symptoms. Of course, it only makes sense to discontinue those activities that tend to set your tooth off. And, within the guidelines of the product, you may find that over the counter pain relievers provide some relief.