When your tooth is badly infected or decayed, a dentist can recommend root canal treatment. If you experience a persistent toothache, there's a high likelihood that the pulp is severely infected or damaged. The pulp is the inner layer of a tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.

During a root canal, the pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned. The tooth is then sealed to prevent the entry of food particles, bacteria, and germs.

Here are three main signs your tooth pulp is damaged and that you need root canal therapy.

Severe Sensitivity to Cold or Heat

Does one of your teeth hurt when you drink hot coffee or eat warm food? Or does it feel seriously sensitive when you drink cold water or eat ice cream? If so, you could have a sensitivity problem.

Tooth sensitivity is a sign of a worn-down enamel. Sensitivity could also indicate other problems, such as gum recession, broken teeth, chipped teeth or even tooth decay. 

If your teeth are highly sensitive, your dentist can recommend desensitizing toothpaste, applying fluoride or performing a surgical gum graft. If these treatments aren't effective, root canal treatment may be your only option to restore your tooth's normal function. 

Tooth Discoloration

When your teeth are discolored, you might not always understand why. A tooth can lose its luminosity for various reasons, such as tobacco use, poor dental hygiene, some drinks or certain medical treatments. 

On other occasions, a discolored tooth can signify an infection in the pulp. Breakdown of internal tissues or trauma to the tooth can damage the pulp and make the tooth turn gray or black.

In such a case, professional teeth whitening, dental bonding, dental crowns or veneers may not always help. You might need a root canal treatment to remove any damaged tissue inside the affected tooth. 

Persistent Pain

Throbbing tooth pain could also mean that you need root canal treatment. Typically, persistent pain indicates inflammation or infection of the pulp, commonly known as pulpitis. This inflammation can be due to a crack or cavity that lets germs and air inside the tooth. These two elements infect and irritate the sensitive pulp nerves, which often results in severe tooth pain. 

Besides pain, other signs of an inflamed pulp include tenderness in the mouth, gum swelling, redness, fever, bad smell and pus. In such a case, you should see a dentist urgently to accurately diagnose the problem. If pain is severe and affects your quality of life, your dentist may recommend a root canal as the best treatment option.

Infection or severe inflammation in your tooth's pulp can cause great pain and discomfort. It can cause tooth sensitivity, swollen gums, discolored teeth or other oral problems that can affect your daily life. Your dentist can recommend root canal treatment to remove the dying pulp remnants to relieve these symptoms.

For more information on when to receive a root canal, contact a professional near you.