Can Root Canal Infections Spread?

Can Root Canal Infections Spread?
Author: Espire Dental Posted: March 24th, 2023 Category:

Treat that infection in a root canal immediately! Otherwise, the infection can spread and cause additional problems.

Among the many reasons to undergo a root canal is to stop the spread of infection. Bacteria that reaches the pulp, or the innermost part of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels lie, can cause the tooth to become infected. Pus then builds up at the tip of the root. Also known as a periapical abscess, the root canal infection must be addressed immediately to prevent it from spreading.

Is the root canal infected? Here’s how to tell

A root canal can save most of your natural tooth and is preferable to extraction. During the procedure, a dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in root canals) removes bacteria from a tooth’s canals and pulp. The treated canals are filled with a latex-based polymer and sealed with an amalgam or composite filling material. A crown may also be placed over the tooth.

Root canal procedures are generally successful. One study estimated the treatment has a success rate of 86 percent to 98 percent. 

Yet, in rare instances, an infection can occur in a root canal because the dentist could not clean hidden or extremely curved canals. A new cavity may form on the tooth after a root canal due to breakage. Likewise, a delay in placing the permanent restoration, such as a crown, can allow bacteria to re-enter the tooth.

An infected root canal has distinct symptoms, which include:

Persistent pain. While feeling a bit sore for a few days after a root canal is normal, constant pain can indicate an infection. The pain may worsen when you chew or consume hot or cold foods. 

Swelling. The gums around the tooth may appear red, swollen, and warm to the touch. The swelling may extend to the face, too. 

Discharge. Another sign of an infection is a green or yellowish discharge from the tooth. 

A bad taste. The infection may give off a bad taste or odor in your mouth.

Fever. If untreated, the infection can cause a fever.

Trouble breathing. An infected tooth can also make it hard to breathe or swallow. 

Any of these symptoms demand immediate treatment by your dentist to stop the spread of an infection. The infection will not heal on its own. Left untreated, the infection may spread to nearby teeth, gums, cheeks, jaw, and even the bloodstream. An infection can spread more rapidly in those with a weakened immune system.

Treatment for a root canal infection is similar to basic root canal therapy. Your dentist will apply anesthesia to numb the tooth before drilling into the pulp, inspecting the tooth’s canals, and removing infected or dead tissue. 

Preventing a root canal infection

Preventing a root canal infection starts with practicing good oral hygiene habits, particularly in the days following treatment. Here is what you can do:

Brush and floss daily. At least twice a day, brush and floss your teeth to cut down on bacteria and acids that cause decay. 

Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash. For the first few days after the root canal, rinse your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash to reduce the chance of an infection.

Get the permanent restoration immediately. Don’t delay getting permanent restoration on the treated tooth. If you wait, bacteria may enter the tooth again.

Report any lingering pain to your dentist. If there is an infection, it’s best to treat it as soon as possible to prevent any complications.

Get your root canal treated at an Espire Dental office

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, location today! Our highly trained dentists have years of experience in treating root canals successfully. Don’t live near our Oklahoma City, OK, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Oklahoma City, OK
12448 St Andrews Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73120