Is My Root Canal Failing? Signs to Look For

Is My Root Canal Failing? Signs to Look ForGregory skeens d.d.s.encinitas family dentistry

Many people cringe at the thought of getting root canal therapy, but that all changes once they feel the relief this treatment provides. Although root canals are a routine treatment at Encinitas Family Dentistry, complications sometimes occur due to rare circumstances. Here are some signs of infection after root canal therapy that you should look out for. And if you do have a failing root canal, Dr. Skeens can help you even if he wasn’t the dentist who originally performed your endodontic treatment.

What is a Root Canal?

To put it simply, a root canal is a procedure where we clean out and fill the hollow roots of a tooth, after the nerve tissues are removed. Dr. Skeens recommends this treatment when a tooth is infected, abscessed, or causing severe pain. Root canal therapy removes all the harmful bacteria and abscessing nerve tissues, saving the tooth and putting an end to the infection. We also seal these canals off with a special type of dental material to ensure bacteria can’t re-enter the damaged tooth.

Although endodontically treated teeth are no longer “alive”, they can continue functioning for several years when they’re reinforced with a full-coverage crown.

Why Do Root Canals Fail?

During a root canal, the roots of the affected tooth are sealed off during treatment. However, sometimes the canal is not cleaned out or sealed off properly or there are smaller, accessory canals that can to reinfection of the tooth.

Here are some reasons why canal therapy might fail:

  • Coronal seal leakage: The cement used to seal the root canal can degrade or leave small gaps that allow bacteria to re-enter the tooth.
  • Missed nerve chambers: Tooth roots are not all the same. Some dentists might not be able to access or seal off smaller accessory canals, so the infection persists.
  • Crown failure: Bacteria may slip under the crown and re-infect the tooth.
  • Damaged tooth: Damage caused by decay or trauma can form cracks in the tooth that leave it susceptible to bacteria.

Signs of Root Canal Failure

Root canal failure results in the same situation no matter how it was caused – infection of the tooth (and possibly the gums). For that reason, many of the signs of a failed root canal may be the same symptoms you experienced before treatment.

Here are some of the possible symptoms of root canal infection:

Pain and Sensitivity

If you’ve had a root canal performed, then you likely are familiar with the pain caused by the initial tooth infection. A toothache is one of the most common signs of infection after root canal therapy, as your tooth shouldn’t be feeling anything at all. The pain may feel like a dull ache or may come as a sharp sting when eating and drinking.

What’s more, temperature sensitivity is not normal after undergoing a root canal. The nerves are removed during the treatment, so you should not feel discomfort. Please call us if hot or cold drinks cause pain, because this may indicate an underlying problem.

Dental Abscess

An abscess is an infection that forms in the center of your tooth – the dental pulp. Abscesses are also one of the old root canal infection symptoms that dentists look for. The most common sign of a dental abscess is a pimple-like bump that develops at the base of the tooth root. It can start as a small red dot on your gums and turn into an open sore if left untreated.

Abscesses can sometimes be quite painful and lead to tooth loss without proper care.

Facial Swelling

After root canal treatment, you may notice some redness in the gums, but facial swelling is not a common side effect.

If your tooth becomes infected, it may cause swelling along your jaws and cheeks. Root canal facial swelling is especially dangerous because it can indicate that the infection has spread into other parts of your mouth and body.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Your lymph nodes produce lymphatic fluids that help your body fight infection. Swollen lymph nodes after root canal therapy may indicate an infection in the tooth or gums. You can check your lymph nodes by feeling for a bump or knot along your neck between your ears and collarbone.

Concerned About Your Root Canal?

Think you need a root canal? Swelling face? In pain? Call Encinitas Family Dentistry! Dr. Skeens is happy to check your teeth and get you the pain relief you deserve.

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Dr. Gregory Skeens Encinitas Family Dentistry

Welcome to the Encinitas dental office of Gregory Skeens, JR., DDS. We are your home for caring dental treatment that supports superior oral health and helps you achieve the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted. Our modern facility is equipped with cutting-edge technology and our team is here to make your visit enjoyable and relaxing.

We take a truly individualized approach to dentistry, which is why our practice is so popular. After every treatment, Encinitas dentist Dr. Skeens personally makes follow- up phone calls to patients to ensure that they are feeling well. Your comfort and well-being are of ultimate importance.

Gregory W. Skeens, DDS | 519 Encinitas Blvd Suite 104, Encinitas, CA 92024 | Phone: (760) 944-9288 | Text: (760) 933-3077 | Email:

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