Recognizing Root Canal Infection Symptoms By Burton Gooch on November 12, 2019

Illustration of a tooth with a root canal infectionRoot canal infection is an inflammation of the nerves and roots that support the crown of the tooth. Unfortunately, people often neglect professional dental care until a root canal infection has reached a critical stage. Most often, the reason for this neglect is a failure to recognize root canal symptoms.

The symptoms of a root canal infection may vary slightly for each person. Recognizing potential root canal infection symptoms, and scheduling a dental exam can be key to saving an infected tooth. Here, Dr. Burton Gooch presents some of the most common root canal symptoms to affect our Birmingham, AL, patients.


Pain or heightened tooth sensitivity is one of the most common symptoms of root canal infection. Someone with a root canal infection is likely to experience discomfort when biting or putting pressure on the infected tooth. In addition, they may experience pain even when the tooth is at rest.

Many people ignore oral pain, assuming that it will resolve on its own. However, the nerves that cause pain reside in the center of the tooth, so if sensitivity or discomfort develops, there is a good chance that the tooth has suffered significant structural damage or an infection has developed.


A root canal infection develops when bacteria makes its way to the center of a tooth and causes the tissues of the pulp and roots to become inflamed. Inflammation may start at the center of the tooth, but it often spreads. When a root canal infection is present, our Birmingham patients may notice swelling along the gums directly surrounding the tooth. In advanced cases, the cheek or entire side of the face may even become swollen.

Tooth Discoloration

It is completely normal for the teeth to become slightly discolored or to develop surface stains related to foods or beverages or oral habits such as smoking. However, if a single tooth suddenly turns brown or gray, it is often the result of a root canal infection. Trauma or infection can essentially kill the roots of a tooth, which causes them to become discolored. When the roots of a tooth change color, the crown of the tooth is likely to follow.

Bad Breath

Bad breath is a common concern, and does not usually point to any serious problem. However, the bad breath we are referring to here goes beyond foul odor after eating fragrant foods like garlic and onions. If our Birmingham patients suddenly notice that their breath is always unpleasant, despite good oral hygiene habits, it may be a sign of a root canal infection. Bacteria and infection give off foul odors that can compromise fresh breath even after brushing.


Sometimes when a root canal infection is present, the roots of the tooth will collect pus. This pus can create a pocket, or abscess, that is present along the gum line. Anyone who notices a localized area of inflammation, or a pimple-like formation near the base of a tooth, should schedule an exam to determine if the tooth has become infected.

Contact Us

A root canal infection threatens the strength and health of a tooth, but with early intervention, it should be treatable. If you suspect that you may be suffering from a root canal infection, contact us at your earliest convenience to schedule an appointment with Dr. Burton Gooch. You can also reach our practice by calling (205) 545-8001.

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Gooch Family Dental

Gooch Family Dental

Gooch Family Dental is dedicated to providing convenient, comprehensive dentistry from our dental office in Birmingham, AL. We take advantage of the latest dental technology to streamline treatment, and deliver fast, beautiful results. Our proud affiliations include:

  • The American Dental Association
  • Academy of General Dentistry
  • Birmingham District Dental Society
  • The Alabama Dental Association

You can learn more about our services, and schedule an appointment today by filling out our online form, or by calling (205) 991-9892.

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