Signs Of Infection After Root Canal: Should I Seek Urgent Care?

Root canals are a common dental treatment. Over 15 million are performed each year in the United States, according to the American Association of Endodontists. However, some people can notice signs of infection after a root canal, which is rare but possible. The following is what you need to look for:

  1. Persistent Pain
    It’s normal to feel some manageable pain after getting a root canal, but if your tooth gets infected again, the pain can worsen, especially when you bite down or eat something cold.
    When a tooth gets reinfected, the pain sticks around and spreads from the root to the gum and jaw. If the pain fails to subside within 3 days after the procedure, it’s wise to see your dentist again.
  2. Pus Pocket (Abscess)
    If you see a swollen spot on your gums near the tooth that was worked on, it is a major indication of infection post-root canal. This swollen spot might sometimes release pus or fluid, even if it doesn’t hurt. If you had this before your root canal and it’s still there after about a week, the infection might not have been completely cleared.
  3. Tooth Color Change
    When bad bacteria infect the inside of a tooth, it can make the enamel look darker. This happens because the tissues inside the tooth start to die off. If your tooth gets darker after treatment, the infection remains, and the root canal needs to be cleaned out better.
  4. Constant Bad Breath
    Sometimes, having a bad smell in your mouth can mean an infection. If brushing your teeth well doesn’t get rid of the smell, it might be because of a problem with your root canal. You might also taste something bitter along with the bad smell.
  5. Tiredness
    After dental work, it’s normal to feel worn out, but something might be wrong if you are still tired a week later. Feeling extra tired can mean an infection from your mouth has spread into your blood. This can cause more problems in your body and make you feel even more tired.
  6. Fever
    Having a fever means your body is trying to fight off bad bacteria. If you notice your body temperature is higher than normal and your mouth feels sore or swollen, it could be because of issues with your root canal.

How to Treat Infection After Root Canal?

Once you recognize the signs of infection following a root canal, it’s time to seek treatment. Your dentist will likely recommend a root canal retreatment for the infected tooth. Following are some dental approaches:

  • Your dentist uses an X-ray to see if there is dead or infected tissue in the root canal.
  • They numb the area with local anesthesia so you don’t feel pain.
  • Your mouth and gums are protected with a barrier around the tooth.
  • They drill into the tooth to reach the dental pulp and canal area.
  • Your dentist removes dead or infected tissue, old root filler material, or medicine.
  • After drying the area, they fill it with a latex-based polymer filler called gutta-percha.
  • The tooth is protected with filling material like composite or amalgam and left to heal.

In some cases, the outer enamel may need to be removed to place a permanent crown over the tooth, preventing future infections.

In a Nutshell

Root canal reinfection is rare, but it is still possible. It can happen even if you take good care of your teeth. If you notice any signs of infection after root canal treatment, consider it a dental emergency.

Visit Dr.Kapadia at Vintage Smile Family Dentistry. Our general dentist has 5 years of experience working with and learning from root canal specialists. Call us at (281) 251-7770 to schedule a visit.


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