Root Canal Infection: Common Causes and Prevention

Root canal infection, also known as pulpitis, is a condition where the nerve inside the tooth becomes inflamed or infected. This often occurs due to tooth decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or trauma to the tooth. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the surrounding tissues, leading to severe pain and, ultimately, tooth loss.

Today, we will discuss the common symptoms of root canal infection and provide some tips on preventing this painful condition:

Common Symptoms of Root Canal Infection

There are many symptoms that show signs of root canal infection, and they include:

1. Severe Toothache

One of the earliest and most obvious symptoms of root canal infection is a sharp, continuous pain in the affected tooth. The pain may worsen when you bite down or apply pressure on the tooth, and it may also become more intense at night.

2. Swelling and Tenderness in the Surrounding Gum

The gum tissue near the affected tooth may become swollen and tender to the touch. The swelling may also spread to the cheek, neck, or jaw.

3. Sensitivity to Hot and Cold

A tooth with an infected root canal may become extremely sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. You may experience lingering pain after consuming hot or cold foods and beverages.

4. Discoloration of the Tooth

An infected tooth may become discolored or darkened due to the dying pulp tissue inside the tooth.

5. Persistent Bad Taste in the Mouth

A foul taste in the mouth that does not go away after brushing and flossing can be another indication of root canal infection.

6. Pus Drainage

Finally, in some cases, pus may accumulate around the affected tooth due to the infection. This can result in a pimple-like bump on the gum, known as a gum boil or abscess.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to consult your dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

How to Prevent Root Canal Infection

To avoid root canal infection from ever happening, you must do the following:

1. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Practicing proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing root canal infection. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily to remove plaque and food debris from between your teeth and under the gum line.

2. Regular Dental Check-ups

Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, usually every six months. Your dentist can detect early signs of tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to root canal infection if left untreated.

3. Protect Your Teeth from Trauma

If you play contact sports or engage in activities that put your teeth at risk for injury, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth from trauma. Additionally, avoid using your teeth to open packages or crack hard objects, as this can cause cracks in the tooth enamel and increase the risk of infection.

4. Eat a Balanced Diet

Consuming a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help strengthen your teeth and gums, reducing the risk of infection. Limit your intake of sugary and acidic foods and beverages, as they can contribute to tooth decay.

5. Treat Tooth Decay and Gum Disease Promptly

Sometimes, even the best prevention efforts may still lead to decay. Regardless, if you develop a cavity or gum disease, seek treatment as soon as possible. Early intervention can help prevent the infection from spreading to the tooth’s pulp and the need for a root canal.


Root canal infections can be extremely painful and may lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Fortunately, by being aware of the common symptoms, you can seek prompt dental care and prevent further complications. On top of that, maintaining good oral hygiene and adopting preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of developing a root canal infection, ensuring a healthy and pain-free smile. So, if you think you’re dealing with a root canal infection, don’t be hesitant to reach out to a dentist today!

Westborough Dental Associates offers the complete dental package in Westborough, MA, helping patients overcome a variety of dental issues to enjoy great oral health. If you are looking for root canal treatment, book an appointment with us today!