Most of us are already familiar with the root canal procedure, how it’s done and when it is necessary. The treatments is often necessary when the living parts of the teeth which are contained in the pulp are dead or decaying. Although, root canal can help to save a decaying tooth, but it’s possible to get a mild to serious infection after the procedure. Infection after a root canal can be life threatening, since it will continue to work its way to the roots and eventually spread to different locations in the body through the blood.
Maybe you just had a root canal treatment and you are wondering whether the treated tooth has been re-infected after the treatment. Well, It indeed necessary to be aware of and recognize early symptoms of infection after root canal. Early detection is very important as to ensure that the infection does not spread or lead to other serious health problems.
Well, before the end of this article you’ll get to know some of the things that you should lookout for after a root canal treatment.
Infection after root canal
Having a root canal treatment, does not actually mean that you are totally free from other problems. It’s usually advisable to stick to good oral hygiene and great aftercare to ensure that your treated tooth does not get re-infected. Apart from poor oral hygiene, the infection might have continued if the tooth’s root canal treatment failed.
Whatever the reason may be, if you notice signs of re-infection like persistent pain or swelling around a treated tooth, you should see your dentist immediately. Depending on the underlying cause of the problem, the dentist may need repeat the treatment to correct problems. In most cases, there may be need for advanced techniques and more specialized equipment to handle even the most complicated root canal networks.
Signs of infection after root canal
High body temperature over 99.5 degrees is among the most common signs of infection after the procedure. Fever is very common in most cases of root canal treatment failure where infection has reestablished itself inside the tooth . Ensure to see your endodontist or dentist as soon as possible if you experience frequent fever after the procedure has been completed.
2. Pimple on the surrounding gums
Root canal treatment takes time, it can take up to 2 to 3 sessions to be completed. You can check here to see – how a Root canal treatment is done. Within these sessions a patient may have pimple or abscess on the gums surrounding the tooth. This pimples are usually filled with pus or fluids, they can be painful sometimes. Often this pimple will release pus or fluid, but once the root canal is complete this abscess should get smaller and eventually disappear. (1)
However, if the tooth and the surrounding area gets infected after the root canal the abscess may increase in number and last for many weeks. At this point, it can become quite painful and often release foul-smelling pus which can lead to chronic mouth odor.
3. Excessive swelling
Infection after a endodontic treatment (root canal) usually goes along with excessive swelling. Well, it’s common to have some few swelling within the first few days after the root canal has been completed. But, swelling caused by infection is quite different and severe. In most extreme cases, the swelling may be extensive and extend into the patient’s face, or even neck. The level or severity of the swelling will continue to fluctuate at any one point in time correlating to the current level of activity of the infection.
4. Severe pain
After the undergoing the root canal procedure, it’s normal to feel pain and discomforts within the next few days. Pain or soreness for a few days after a root canal is supposed to die down as more days passes. Although, having persistent or renewed discomfort with a treated tooth as more days passes is not actually a good sign. You can experience persistent pain and discomforts if infection has made its way down in the roots and develop into an abscess. The discomfort noticed might range from just slight swelling and tenderness to outright pain around the gums, mouth, and face.
How to treat infection after root canal
Most of the time, successful root canal treatment helps to preserves a tooth for many years. There are a number of reasons why a tooth can become re-infected after the procedure. The level of infection at any one point in time is unpredictable, it can start with minor symptoms and shift into an acute phase, bringing with it intense pain and significant swelling. (2) However, if the pain and discomforts worsens and extends up to more than 3 days after the treatment, you should return to your dentist or endodontist as soon as possible. There are certain available remedies to fix a failed root canal treatment. Those treatments includes:
- Retreatment: in cases like this, your dentist or endodontist may need to perform the tooth’s root canal treatment is again. The tooth will be opened up, cleaned out and disinfected again. After this, it will be filled once more and sealed off to prevent the infection from reoccurring.
- Abscess drainage: in most cases, root canal infections are usually accompanied by an abscess at the root of the tooth. Abscess appears like pimples around the treated tooth, it often ruptures and release foul-smelling drainage from around the tooth or gums. All the abscesses will need to be punctured and drained as well to avoid letting the infection spread to the rest of the body. (3) The dentist may need to apply some antibiotics around the tooth after.
- Tooth extraction: extracting the treated tooth will be necessary if the infection has spread to the root and has damaged the tooth beyond repair. In most cases like this, failure to extract the tooth or address the infection on time, can increase your risk of developing serious health problems. Infection after root canal can actually spread to different locations in the body and cause problem. In my previous post, I explained more on the dangers of root canal infection. You can read the post here – dangers & side effects of root canal.