Root Canal Information


Root Canal Complications

What are the complications of having root canal?

In less than 5% of the cases, there will be a ‘flare-up’ of the tooth with pain after root canal and sometimes swelling. This usually happens within the first three days following treatment and is caused by dying bacteria inside the tooth that put off toxins into your jaw. If this happens, you will need to take an antibiotic.  Call your dentist and let them advise you what to do.

Most of the time, however, there is little or no pain after root canal, if performed when first indicated. Many patients report immediate relief of their symptoms. If there was a lot of infection in the tooth before the root canal, there will be healing time required after the procedure and you may experience some pain. This pain can be moderate to severe and last several days, getting a little better each day.

If your tooth hurts when you chew on it, it is still healing and you need to chew on the other side of your mouth until the pain is gone.

Some teeth swell in the socket and feel ‘higher’ than the other teeth, disrupting the healing process. If this happens, call your dentist or Endodontist and get an appointment. They can adjust your bite to prevent this tooth from hitting so hard when you bite.

Occasionally, a endodontic file will break inside the tooth during the procedure. Most of the time, this is not a problem and the file is cemented into and becomes part of the tooth. There are reports of both complications and no problems at all with a broken file in a tooth.

You can have pain afterward if your tooth has a fracture. A fracture in your tooth can be diagnosed using a microscope, or dye tests. Teeth with a fracture should be crowned as soon after your root canal as possible. Avoid chewing on the fractured tooth until your dentist has crowned it.

Even after crowning, some teeth that have fracture will be sensitive on occasion, much like a healed broken bone is sometimes sensitive. This is normal and nothing to worry about unless the pain or sensitivity gets severe which could indicate the fracture has worsened and the tooth needs to be removed.

Sometimes, in spite of best efforts, the body does not heal the infection that was inside the bone around the tooth. It is a biologic procedure and is not guaranteed because everyone has differing immune systems and healing capacities. If your tooth does not heal, a re-treatment of the root canal can be performed, where the root canal is tried again.

If a pocket of infection is left in the bone that does not heal, an apicoectomy might be indicated. This is where a surgical procedure is performed and a small incision is made in the gum above the tooth and the infection is removed, the area sterilized and cleaned. This procedure is almost always performed by an Endodontist or Oral Surgeon. The need for an apicoectomy is rare, but the sucess rate is high.

A root canal removes the nerve inside your tooth. This nerve controls sensitivity to hot or cold. If you experience pain with hot or cold after your root canal, it is impossible for it to involve the root canal tooth, unless a canal was missed. Unfortunately, it may be another tooth that may need root canal.