Root canals are essential treatments that dentists provide to help save the teeth. Root canals are extremely common procedures. In fact, about 41,000 root canals are performed each day. Since a root canal can save you from having to go through a dental extraction, you should not ignore dental pain that may indicate that your tooth is dying. Keep reading to learn about a few different pain signs that your tooth is infected and a root canal is needed.

Positional Pain

The teeth contain a bundle of nerves and blood vessels within the hollow part of the tooth called the pulp chamber. When a cavity becomes so deep that it reaches into the pulp chamber, bacteria are able to attack the nerves and blood vessels directly. The tissues then start to die. When this happens, the nerves inside the tooth send out distress signals to tell you there is a serious problem inside the tooth. Inflammation will often build, and this will place pressure on the already distressed dental nerves. The pressure and stress will cause pain levels to increase. Outside pressure can cause an increase in pain too, and this is why you will feel lingering pain if you press on the tooth or use it to bite down.

You can actually cause pressure to increase inside the tooth depending on the way you position your head. Specifically, this will occur when you lie your head down to rest. Blood flow and pressure increases across the neck and head when you lie down. This surge of blood in your infected tooth will cause pressure and discomfort, and this is called positional pain. The same pain will be noticed if you bend your head down when leaning over. Since positional pain is associated with trauma inside a tooth, you should seek out assistance if you feel an increase in dental discomfort when lying down.

Referred Pain

If you have a dental infection and an abscess in the gum tissues near the infected tooth, then you will sometimes feel pain in your jaw, neck, ears, or several different teeth. Basically, you may feel discomfort in a large area of your face that includes a tooth and at least one other region. However, this does not mean that an infection has spread throughout your jaw. Instead, you are likely feeling referred pain. Referred pain is discomfort that occurs in an area of your body other than where the medical problem is located. This issue is commonly seen when an individual has a heart attack. Pain will radiate through the neck, shoulders, and arms. This happens because these other parts of the body share nerve connections with the heart.

The same pain radiation and nerve sharing will cause pain to feel as though it originates in another area of the head. In general, the more severe the infection and pain level, the more likely that pain will refer to another area of the head. The pain will branch out along the major nerve in the head called the trigeminal nerve. While pain may be felt in different areas of the face when you have a dental infection, the discomfort will typically remain on the same side as the infection. This can help your dentist to find the infected tooth easier. However, x-rays will still likely be needed to find the exact location of the infection and abscess. 

Dental infections need to be treated quickly, and root canals are typically used to eradicate an infection and save the tooth at the same time. It can sometimes be difficult to figure out if a toothache is serious or not. However, if you notice positional or referred pain, then make arrangements to see a dentist like Rick Chavez DDS right away.