You had a root canal not too long ago. So why does your tooth still hurt?
Dentists perform 15 million root canals each year. Every one of those treatments brought relief to patients suffering from the excruciating pain of a severely decayed tooth. But what happens if you’ve undergone a root canal but experience the same symptoms that necessitated the procedure in the first place?
Although rare, root canal infections can return, sometimes months or years after initial treatment. An article in the European Journal of Dentistry estimates root canal or endodontic therapy is between 86 percent to 98 percent successful. So, the odds are pretty low that your root canal symptoms will return. Yet there are definite signs you may need root canal retreatment. Here’s what to look for.
Why your root canal needs retreatment
Each tooth has an inner pulp containing nerves and blood vessels, which is why your tooth hurts so much when the pulp is decayed or infected. A root canal removes the damaged pulp, alleviating the pain and maintaining most of the natural tooth.
The pulp consists of several canals, some of which are curved, narrow, and hard to detect. If the initial root canal didn’t reach all those canals, an untreated one could become infected by bacteria. An infection may also occur if there was a delay between the root canal procedure and the placement of a permanent restoration, such as a crown. This lapse gives bacteria a chance to grow and infect the tooth. If the crown cracks, bacteria may spread to the tooth, causing a cavity to develop.
A root canal can preserve the tooth for many years. But just like any other tooth, cavities can develop in a root canal if a patient doesn’t brush and floss regularly to clear away decay-causing bacteria.
What a reinfected root canal feels like
While it’s normal to feel discomfort following the initial root canal, pain that persists weeks after the procedure may indicate reinfection. In those infrequent instances, you may experience these signs:
- A persistent dull ache or feeling of pressure.
- Sharp pain when biting down with the tooth.
- Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.
- Swollen, tender gums around the tooth.
- Bad taste in your mouth or bad breath.
- Pus or greenish discharge around the tooth.
A root canal reinfection must be treated immediately. If not treated within days or hours, the infection may spread to nearby tissues and teeth, not to mention increasing your pain.
To preserve the tooth and keep your mouth healthy, your dentist can perform another root canal procedure to clear out the infection, dead tissue, and the original filling material. New filling material will then be placed in the tooth. A temporary filling will allow the tooth to heal until a permanent restoration can be done later.
Practicing good oral hygiene after a root canal can prevent an infection. Brush and floss every day as you usually would. Other tips to lessen the chance of reinfection following your root canal include:
- Gargle with a gentle, antiseptic mouthwash, at least for a few days after the procedure.
- See your dentist for a crown or permanent restoration at the earliest possible date. Leaving the tooth without its permanent fix gives bacteria a chance to grow in the root canal.
- Go for regular dental cleanings to detect and treat decay and infection early.
Get tooth pain treated now!
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Norman, Oklahoma, location today! Our highly trained dentists can perform a root canal to stop your tooth pain. Don’t live near our Norman, Oklahoma, office? Find one of our other locations near you.
550 24th Ave. S.W.
Norman, OK 73069