Tooth Pain After Root Canal: Should I Worry?
Sudden tooth pain years after root canal treatment is not normal and is definitely something to worry about. The most common cause of such pain is usually an infection. With proper aid, like the Endodontic Treatment at Dental Matters, a tooth with a root canal can last forever. However, sometimes infections crawl their way back into the tooth, whether we like it or not.
Annoying and persistent, a root infection is a nightmare, both for doctors and patients. But knowing the cause is the key to treating it.
Is It Truly an Infection?
While treated teeth should, in theory, remain infection-free forever, there are times when things don’t go as planned. Most reinfections are caused by human error or low-quality materials and, as such, should be looked at by an endodontic specialist. However, many people will reject the possibility of an infection and will come up with other explanations.
When it comes to tooth pain, nothing should be ruled out — especially infections. Left untreated, infections can spread to the rest of the mouth and cause more pain and damage. If you keep ignoring them, your entire body is in danger, as infections can enter the bloodstream and cause septicemia.
Causes of Infection
Typically, sloppy dental care is the main cause of infections. Other times infections can reappear without a specific reason. Even so, tooth pain years after root canal might point toward some untreated dental issues. The most common causes of reinfection are as follows:
- Lack of proper cleaning or disinfection during the initial treatment
- An oddly-shaped canal that wasn’t fully inspected
- Extra canals that may house bacteria.
- Bad crown placement leading to food or bacteria infiltration
- Pathological problems like proneness to infections
Now that we know what the main causes of an infection are, we need to see if that’s the culprit for your tooth pain. Luckily, there are a few symptoms that can help us figure out if there is truly an infection.
Before we determine what is causing the pain, we need to take a look at the symptoms. It’s obvious that the main symptom of an infection is tooth pain years after root canal treatment. While that may seem enough for some, going deeper into the root of the problem is always better for an accurate diagnosis.
First of all, be on the lookout for increased sensitivity. Most infections will affect the nearby teeth and cause lingering pain after consuming hot or cold drinks or foods. That also applies to chewing, as biting down on food can cause sharp pain in case of an infection.
Next, take a look in the mirror and search for any swelling in the gums. Infected canals will sometimes cause the gums to swell with the presence of bumps similar to pimples. If there is any swelling in your mouth, give it a gentle push and see if it hurts. Any type of pain when touching the gums is a clear indication of an infection.
Last but not least, any bad, rotten-like taste is a sign of a leaking infection. If that’s the case, don’t waste a single minute and call your local endodontist. Leaking infections are dangerous and will spread to your entire mouth if not promptly treated.
What to do next?
Once we are sure that an infection is the culprit, it’s time to bring out the big guns — endodontic therapy. Treating an infected tooth with an old root canal is not easy as it requires a new root canal retreatment. However, thanks to medical breakthroughs, endodontic procedures have become much easier and painless.
How are Infections Treated?
Before doing anything to the tooth, a dentist will start by numbing the area using a local anesthetic. Note that most dentists will require an X-ray before deciding how to tackle the infection. Similar to any root canal procedure, any retreatment will require the removal of old tooth fillings.
Like the original treatment, a drill will be used to reach the pulp and root canal area. After a thorough cleaning and disinfection, the endodontic specialist will verify if there is any dead tissue that needs to be removed. Once that’s out of the way, a new filling will be required. If everything goes according to plan, the last step will be to get a crown, and your tooth will be as good as new.
Although most of the time retreatment will work, other times the tooth might be too damaged to survive. If that happens, a tooth extraction will be necessary.
Tips for Preventing Root Canal Pains
Even though sometimes we can’t avoid them, taking some basic precautions will lower the chances of developing infections. Like with any part of our body, it’s better to prevent than to treat. All good dentists will give you at least some simple advice to help minimize pain. We have also compiled a basic list that will help you avoid most future dental issues:
- Brush at least twice a day
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash after getting a new root canal
- Use pain medication for any post-treatment soreness
- Get a crown or permanent restoration as soon as possible after a root canal
- Go to your dentist at least once a month for a routine check
There is no guarantee that you won’t have problems again down the road. The most important advice we can give is to go to the dentist as soon as you feel any pain. Taking pills or using homemade treatments will make you end up with prolonged pain or even worse — lose teeth. Overall, a specialist is the best solution when it comes to getting rid of the pain.
Tooth Pain Years After Root Canal Conclusion
Although going to the dentist might not be fun, it’s definitely better than enduring tooth pain years after root canal. And if you are afraid of seeing a dentist due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic, you shouldn’t be. All certified professionals must follow the official guidelines provided by the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/dental-settings.html). In conclusion, take care of your teeth and don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. The more you postpone a visit to the dentist, the risk of losing teeth grows higher. So do your teeth a favor and call your local dentist now!