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
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
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.