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8 Common Signs that You Need a Root Canal

February 9, 2023
by: Dr. Ammons

Sometimes, bacteria can get into the pulp of a tooth through a crack, chip, break, etc., and cause infection. At Ammons Dental by Design, we will do everything we can to save the structure of the infected tooth, which is why the first answer is typically root canal treatment.

Root canal treatment is an endodontic procedure in which the inflamed/infected pulp is removed from the tooth. Once this is done, the tooth will either be filled or a crown will be placed. This procedure saves the structure of the tooth.

We have four convenient locations across South Carolina: Downtown Charleston, James Island, Summerville, and Camden. In this article, we’ll outline how you will know if you may need a root canal.

Top 8 Signs

While you will need a dental exam to confirm your need for a root canal, there are 8 signs that indicate you may be a candidate for this treatment.

  • Persistent Pain
    Any time you have pain in your mouth, you should mention it to your dentist. However, there are certain types of pain that may indicate the need for a root canal. If the pain hits you like a wave and lingers, it could mean that you need a root canal. If there are certain positions that make your gums/tooth hurt worse or if you have pressure on your tooth and face when lying down or bending over, you may need a root canal.
  • Chipped/Cracked tooth
    There are two reasons that a chipped/cracked tooth could indicate the need for a root canal. In some cases, the crack/chip was caused by trauma, which allowed bacteria to get in and caused the pulp to become inflamed/infected. On the other hand, the chip/crack may be caused by decay. Either way, a root canal is necessary to salvage the structure of the tooth.
  • Sensitivity to Extreme Temperatures (foods/drinks)
    It is possible to have sensitivity to hot/cold without needing a root canal. However, when the pain/sensitivity from extreme temperatures lingers, you may need this procedure.
  • Deep Decay
    If left untreated, inflamed/infected, the pulp can decay. In order to clean out the infection and salvage the structure of the tooth, you may need a root canal.
  • Swollen Gums
    If your gums are swollen near the affected tooth, you may need a root canal. The area may also be tender/painful when touched and may come and go. You may also have a pimple, or abscess, on your gum- which may ooze pus, giving you an unpleasant taste in your mouth and bad breath.
  • Drainage from the Tooth
    If you have pus draining into your mouth from the tooth, causing a bad taste in your mouth and bad breath, you may need a root canal. The pus is from the infection, which will be seen as a dark spot in x-rays. During your consultation, we can easily determine if you have an infection.
  • Discoloration/Graying of the Tooth & Gums
    Healthy teeth are white/off-white in color. When a tooth is infected and dies, it darkens, and subsequently, the gum around the affected tooth will darken. If you start to notice that your tooth and gums are dark and gray, you may need a root canal.
  • Tooth Pain While Chewing
    If you have pain/sensitivity when you are chewing or when the tooth is touched, you may have tooth decay or nerve damage- which means you may need a root canal. It is especially important to be evaluated if the pain persists and doesn’t stop when you are not eating.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Root Canal Treatment

Every dental procedure comes with advantages and disadvantages. Below are the common ones associated with root canals.


  • Relieves the pain
  • Salvages the tooth structure, which means you don’t need an extraction, you can prevent jawbone loss, and you don’t need a dental implant


  • The procedure can be uncomfortable
  • Small risk of infection following the procedure

Root Canal Treatment Options

Root canal treatment can be used to treat a variety of dental problems to salvage the structure of the tooth. However, it’s not always the best option. If caught early, a filling may be sufficient to get rid of the infection and save the tooth. If it has gone untreated for too long, extraction may be the only option.

The team at Ammons Dental by Design has the experience and expertise to determine the best course of treatment.

When to Contact Your Dentist

If you have any of the above signs and symptoms, you need to contact your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you address the issue, the better your chances of saving the tooth.

Additionally, routine check-ups can reduce your risk of infection and other dental issues because the dentist can detect problems before they escalate.


If you believe you may need a root canal, contact the team at Ammons Dental by Design to schedule your consultation. We have four conveniently located offices so that you can easily get the treatment that you need. Our dentists are highly trained and have experience in a variety of dental procedures, including root canals.

We understand that dental visits can be a source of anxiety for many of our patients, so our office staff will do everything they can to help you feel comfortable from the moment you enter our clinic.

See What Our Patients Are Saying

  • "I don't think I've ever been to a dental office that has been this friendly and happy and it just makes you feel at home. It's been a wonderful experience and I certainly wouldn't want to go anywhere else."
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  • "Great experience here. Been here for about a year and a half or something. My name is John Murphy. They do a terrific job in here and I'm very very pleased with their performance and trust what they do for me. Thank you."
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  • "I love coming to Ammons Dental By Design. The staff is always so friendly and helpful and they make coming to the dentists office fun again."
    ~ Happy Patient ~
  • "Hi there. Very pleased with my care at Dr. Ammons. He has a modern facility with friendly people and happy faces and it's always a pleasing experience."
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  • "I had a great experience getting my implant done here. The staff and Dr. Ammons have been great and everything was virtually painless. I definitely recommend them for all your dental needs."
    ~ Implant Patient ~

Multiple Convenient Dental Locations Near Charleston

Ammons Dental By Design has four locations so you can find the most convenient office for your family.
1015 Fair St.
Camden, SC 29020
Monday – Thursday:
8am – 5pm
P: (803) 969-0365
F: (803) 432-2625
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14 Lockwood Dr,
Charleston, SC 29401
(Suite A on the exterior of the Ashley House Building, across from the marina)
Monday – Thursday:
7am - 4pm
P: (843) 380-2734
F: (843) 577-4464
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1739-B Maybank Hwy.
Charleston, SC 29412
Tuesday – Friday:
7am - 4pm
P: (843) 380-8889
F: (843) 990-9504
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1710 Old Trolley., Ste.B
Summerville, SC 29485
Tuesday – Thursday: 8am – 5pm
Monday & Friday*: 8am – 5pm
*Rotating schedule
P: (843) 380-8904
F: (843) 871-0617
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