What Are Symptoms of a Root Canal Infection?

What are the symptoms of infection after a root canal?

Dental abscess

Checking out your gums and notice a strange bump or discolored pus discharge? You may have a dental abscess, which is caused by a bacterial infection within the tooth or gums. You may experience pain or relief of pain symptoms as the abscess drains. A dental abscess can be a life-threatening situation and should be addressed immediately, as the infection can spread to other areas of the body.

Persistent pain

Pain that does not seem to go away can be troubling. You may experience pain intensify when consuming hot or cold foods and beverages, or when biting down or placing pressure on the affected tooth.

What Are Symptoms of a Root Canal Infection?

Bad breath

Persistent bad breath or a foul taste in the mouth despite brushing and flossing can be a symptom of a bacterial infection.

Darkening of the tooth

Infection within the tooth’s root canal can result in tooth discoloration. Dead tissues within the tooth tend to change to a dark brown, grey, or yellow color which can show through the dental enamel.

Swollen Gums

The presence of red, swollen, and tender gums particularly near the tooth that had a root canal may be a sign that an infection is present.

What causes infection after a root canal?

Root canal procedures are a common safe and effective procedure to repair teeth and restore oral health. The total success rate of root canal therapy on average ranges from 86% to 98%, as reported by a study published in the European Journal of Dentistry. Some individuals however may experience infection even after a successful root canal procedure. According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), some factors may play a role in this reinfection process, such as:

  • Sometimes small or curved shaped canals can be missed during treatment which may allow bacteria to remain inside the tooth and cause infection.
  • If bacteria are able to access the root canal before the permanent restoration or filling is placed, the canal may become reinfected. A prolonged delay in placing the permanent restoration can also increase the risk of reinfection.
  • A lack of proper oral hygiene can create new cavities and reintroduce bacteria to the affected tooth.
  • A crack or opening in the filling or restoration of the tooth that had the root canal performed could reintroduce bacteria into the root canal.

How to prevent root canal infections?

There are many simple steps you can take to help prevent root canal infections from occurring. As always, brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least daily is essential to maintaining good oral health and preventing oral bacteria from causing damage. Using an anti-bacterial mouth rinse daily may also add additional benefits to your oral care routine. Following your root canal procedure, it is necessary to return to your dentist for any remaining procedures on the affected tooth, such a dental crown or permanent filling per the recommendation of your dental professional. Also be sure you are visiting your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and check-ups.

When should you go to a dentist?

If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of reinfection, you should contact a dentist immediately. The sooner action is taken to combat the infection, the more likely treatment will be successful.