Similar to other symptoms, dental pain can sometimes necessitate emergency care, such as root canal treatment. According to the American Dental Association, over two million people visit the emergency room each year for symptoms that are ultimately related to dental problems. It is important to decide whether to address tooth pain and its accompanying symptoms immediately or wait for a regular appointment to have the issue resolved.

At South Coast Dentistry in Aliso Viejo, we are ready to help you quickly restore your oral health with an emergency root canal. While root canals may have a reputation for being unpleasant, they are a necessary procedure to alleviate dental infections, which can often cause severe pain. By undergoing this procedure, our Aliso Viejo dentists can provide you with the much-needed relief you deserve as quickly as possible.

An Overview of Emergency Root Canal

To save broken or infected teeth, a dentist may perform an emergency root canal. This dental procedure involves extracting the damaged pulp or tissues and sealing the surface to prevent the return of germs. An experienced endodontist or dentist carries out the treatment. After the procedure, a crown is placed on the surface of the tooth to ensure its stability and strength.

Symptoms Indicating The Need For Emergency Root Canal

Visiting your dentist is the most effective way to determine if you require an emergency root canal. However, it is important to be aware of certain warning signs. If you notice any symptoms, it is crucial to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. By seeking early treatment, your dentist is more likely to address the issue promptly.

Common signs indicating the need for an emergency root canal include the following:            

  • Persistent Pain

Persistent tooth pain is the most typical indicator that you may require a root canal. This pain can occur at any time of day or night and, although it may temporarily subside, it will always return. The discomfort may originate from deep within the tooth's bone. In addition, you may experience a searing pain in your other teeth, jaw, or cheeks.

However, other factors can contribute to dental pain, including gum disease, cavities, or broken fillings. If you experience tooth discomfort, especially if it is chronic, it is important to see your dentist. Remember that early diagnosis and treatment often lead to the best results.

  • Discoloration Of Teeth

Discoloration can result in the yellowing of your teeth. Tooth trauma and internal tissue breakdown can damage the tooth root, giving it a grayish appearance. If the tooth's blood supply is insufficient, the tooth pulp may die after a root canal. It's important to note that there could be other causes for the yellowing of teeth. Therefore, it is crucial to consult your dentist as soon as you notice any discoloration in your teeth.

  • Heat and Cold Sensitivity

Do you experience tooth pain when consuming cold food or a cup of hot tea? Perhaps your teeth become sensitive when you have ice cream or drink an icy beverage. This sensitivity can manifest as either a dull discomfort or an acute pain.

Therefore, if the pain persists after consuming hot or cold meals, it is advisable to consider undergoing a root canal treatment. Additionally, experiencing tooth pain after consuming hot or cold beverages could indicate potential damage or infection in the blood vessels and nerves.

  • Swollen Gums

The presence of swollen gums surrounding a sore tooth may indicate the need for an urgent root canal. Sometimes, the swelling may come and go, only to return. When you touch the swollen gum, it may feel sensitive or painful. It's important to remember that the swelling is caused by the acidic waste products of decomposing pulp tissues.

You may experience or notice a zit in the gums surrounding your teeth. This zit is commonly referred to as a gum boil or abscess. Along with this, you may also observe an unpleasant odor coming from your breath and a pimple that is releasing discharge onto your teeth.

  • A Chipped or Cracked Tooth

Bacteria can enter your oral cavity through chipped or damaged teeth caused by eating or car accidents, potentially leading to illness and swelling. Even if your tooth does not chip or break, any injury to it can harm the nerves. If there is inflammation of the tooth nerve, resulting in pain and sensitivity, an urgent root canal is necessary to address the issue.

Preparation for an Emergency Root Canal Procedure

It is advisable to make arrangements before seeing a medical professional for root canal therapy. Making the necessary preparations will ensure a comfortable procedure and smooth recovery.

The following are the preparations you should be aware of:

  • Avoid smoking or consuming alcohol 24 hours before the treatment.
  • Take your meal before the surgery, as it may be challenging to eat anything for several hours afterward.
  • Take an ibuprofen-type pain reliever several hours before the surgery.
  • Inquire about the complete process and inquire about what to eat following the procedure.
  • To facilitate the healing process, you should spend the entire night asleep both before and after the surgery. This allows your body to heal itself effectively.

The Emergency Root Canal Treatment

If you require an emergency root canal, it is advisable to seek the expertise of a qualified and experienced endodontist or dentist. These professionals specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing dental diseases.

The process will involve the following steps:

Taking an X-ray

The endodontist will take an X-ray to assess any infection surrounding the tooth bone and view the root canal. The dentist will apply an anesthetic to the tooth surface to numb it. While you may not need an anesthetic if the nerve is dead, many dental professionals still administer it to ensure their patients are comfortable and relaxed during the process.   

Maintaining a Dry Surface While Drilling

To maintain a dry and saliva-free area, the dentist uses a rubber dam to cover the tooth. Next, the dentist drills a hole in the surface to access the tooth root. After drilling, they remove germs and damaged tooth pulp from the affected tooth.

Dentists use a series of files to clear the surface and clean the sides of the root canals. They lay the files on the holes to scrape and remove any remaining material. After scraping the sides of the root canal, the dental professional sprays sodium hypochlorite to ensure thorough cleaning.

Tooth Sealing

During the root canal procedure, the dental professional will seal the tooth. Some dentists choose to wait for seven days before filling the tooth. For example, they may inject medicine into the tooth to treat an infection. After cleaning the tooth, some dentists opt to seal it during the same session.

If the dentist decides not to fill the tooth during the appointment, they will temporarily seal it to prevent food and saliva from entering. During your next appointment, the dentist will use sealer paste and rubber compound (gutta percha) to fill the tooth. To complete the root canal process, your dentist will drill a hole and fill it.

Tooth Restoration

Tooth restoration is the final step in the root canal process. Every tooth, especially those with significant deterioration, may require a root canal. As a result, you may need a crown or another type of repair to protect the tooth and prevent it from cracking. Your dentist will also discuss any additional dental care procedures you may need.

Recovery from Root Canal Treatment

After a root canal procedure, it is normal for your mouth to remain numb for several hours. During this time, it is advisable to refrain from eating until the numbness subsides. It is also important to note that your teeth may be sensitive for a few days due to tissue inflammation. To alleviate sensitivity, you can consider taking pain medications like naproxen or ibuprofen. These medications can help reduce discomfort and improve your overall comfort during the healing process.

Until the dentist places a crown or permanent filling, it is advisable to avoid chewing on the affected tooth. It is important to refrain from eating food while chewing to keep the area clean and prevent further damage to the weakened tooth before it is fully repaired. Additionally, it is recommended to use an antiseptic mouthwash for rinsing and brushing your teeth.

Advantages Of Root Canal Procedures

Patients who are experiencing severe tooth pain, or dental decay, or require treatment can greatly benefit from undergoing endodontic therapy, specifically a root canal procedure. Root canal operations offer several advantages over alternative options, such as tooth extraction.

The main advantages of a root canal over alternative dental procedures are as follows:

Reduces Pain

Nobody wants to experience the agony of a painful toothache. It can interfere with your daily activities and ruin your leisure time, ultimately affecting your productivity. The tooth’s dental pulp is responsible for the majority of the pain experienced during a root canal, rather than the dental treatment itself or the healing period.

It's important to understand that the removal of germs and damaged nerves that cause tooth pain is a crucial aspect of root canal treatment. Furthermore, the surgeon has the option to choose from a variety of anesthetics to ensure comfort throughout the procedure.

Prevents Future Severe Infections

It's important to keep in mind that dental infections don't just affect a single tooth. They have the potential to spread to other areas of the body or other teeth, posing a serious threat to your oral health and smile. When receiving dental care, it's common to experience discomfort, swelling, and infection in the gums, teeth, and oral tissues. It's crucial to remember that these infections can be severe and even life-threatening. However, undergoing a root canal procedure can significantly reduce the risk of infection and prevent its spread from the affected tooth.

Eliminates Sensitivity

Whether you enjoy warm beverages on chilly winter nights or ice-cold ones during the sweltering summer, having diseased teeth can make these experiences uncomfortable. However, the main advantage of this operation is that it fixes the injured nerves, allowing you to enjoy eating everything you want.

Maintains Natural Smile

The primary goals of having a root canal are to save your tooth and maintain a white smile. While a dentist can restore your teeth with a prosthesis, nothing will ever match the look, feel, and function of natural teeth. Therefore, the best course of action is to opt for an emergency root canal if you want to continue eating without concerns about the appearance of your teeth. To ensure a seamless dental process in a single session, we recommend reaching out to our team of dental professionals.


When considering the process, one may often associate a root canal with pain. However, it is important to understand that the purpose of this operation is to alleviate the pain caused by decaying roots and diseased pulp.

Contrary to common belief, many individuals report experiencing minimal to no discomfort during a root canal procedure. Patients often find that the procedure is less painful than having a tooth extracted. Considering this, it is worth considering a root canal as a viable option instead of undergoing additional dental work.

Tips on Preventing Root Canals

Maintaining an attractive and healthy smile is preferable to attempting to restore decayed teeth. In the event of dental decay or trauma, a root canal may be necessary. However, you can avoid the need for root canal therapy by following these preventive care techniques:

Flossing and Brushing

One simple way to avoid root canal therapy is to consistently practice good dental hygiene, which includes brushing and flossing your teeth. It is recommended to clean your teeth at least twice a day, or after each meal if possible. Remember, flossing should not be skipped after brushing.

Flossing helps remove food particles that get stuck between your teeth, which can lead to decay, bad breath, and potential tooth damage. To maintain a healthy mouth and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, it is important to make flossing a daily habit.

Avoid Sticky and Hard Foods

Hard foods can contribute to dental caries, as they can cause teeth to shatter when biting into candy and ice cubes. Additionally, teeth fissures can trap microorganisms, leading to an increased risk of infection and decay. It is advisable to avoid consuming hard foods such as seeds, nuts, apples, raw carrots, popcorn kernels, and others if your teeth are weak. By following this precaution, you may be able to prevent the need for a root canal in the future.

Foods that stick to your teeth, particularly sugar-based stick meals, tend to stay in your mouth longer. Sticky foods, such as those containing sugar, provide nourishment for the bacteria in your mouth. Over time, this can lead to tooth decay.

Keep an Eye on The Drinks You Take

Carbonated beverages, such as soda, can be acidic and harmful to the teeth. Similarly, fruit juices, especially citrus ones, can pose a hazard to dental health. The acids present in citrus fruits can easily erode tooth enamel. Additionally, most fruit juices contain sugar, which promotes the growth of oral bacteria and contributes to tooth damage.

Wine and beer, two types of alcoholic beverages, are acidic and have the potential to harm your teeth. If you consume alcoholic beverages, it is advisable to rinse your mouth with water in between to minimize the level of acidity.

Get Regular Dental Checkups

Identifying dental decay on your own can be difficult. However, your dentist can quickly spot the warning signs in the early stages. Regular cleanings and check-ups at the dentist enable them to identify any issues before they escalate. It's important to remember that tooth decay may require serious treatments such as root canals, dental implants, or extractions.

It is important not to disregard any minor pain you may be experiencing in your teeth. If your teeth are hurting, it is a sign that they require attention, and neglecting them could lead to further complications. If you experience any discomfort in your teeth, it is advisable to visit your dentist immediately. This will help prevent the need for more extensive treatment in the future.

Put on a Mouthguard

A mouthguard is essential for anyone who participates in sports. It protects you by preventing the teeth from breaking or chipping while you play. Without a mouthguard, even small breaks in your teeth may require root canal therapy. Additionally, if you grind your teeth at night, you should consider wearing a mouthguard before going to bed. This will aid in preventing damage to your teeth from sleep-related teeth grinding.

To protect your teeth during physical activities or sports, consider getting a customized mouthguard tailored to your teeth. Consult your dentist for more information about the benefits of a well-fitted mouthguard.

Find an Aliso Viejo Emergency Dentist Near Me

A toothache can negatively impact all aspects of life and cause discomfort. To make informed decisions about your dental care, it's important to understand why root canals are necessary and when emergency procedures are appropriate.

At South Coast Dentistry in Aliso Viejo, our dentists are ready to assist you with your dental procedure. We will assess your needs, determine if you are a suitable candidate for the treatment, and provide you with clear post-procedural instructions. Call us today at 949-274-9086.