Signs of Infection After Root Canal Treatment

Signs of Infection After Root Canal TreatmentGregory skeens d.d.s.encinitas family dentistry


Root canal therapy (endodontic treatment) is an extremely safe procedure used for preserving your natural teeth. Oftentimes, it is one of the last options that is available to avoid losing a tooth altogether. Dr. Skeens may recommend a root canal if you’ve had an abscess, severe traumatic injury, cracked root, or chronic tooth pain. Although rare, it’s important to look for red flags alerting you to signs of infection after root canal treatment.

Old Root Canal Infection Symptoms

If you previously had a root canal on a tooth and are suddenly experiencing pain in the tooth with the root canal, a swelling face, or visible abscessing, your endodontic treatment may have failed. In those situations, root canal retreatment is necessary.

Endodontic retreatments are rare, but they do occur from time to time. Symptoms of a root canal infection might also include swollen lymph nodes after root canal treatment or severe hypersensitivity whenever you’re biting down on food.

X-rays of these teeth usually show signs of darkening in or around the root because of residual bacterial infections.

What Could Cause a Root Canal Infection?

Most teeth have one main nerve chamber running up and down through the root. For teeth with multiple roots, there are multiple nerve chambers. Each of these nerve canals needs to be completely cleaned out, medicated and sealed off during the endodontic treatment process.

On occasion, there are “accessory” canals that extend through the side of a tooth root into the main nerve canal. Not everyone has these. If one is missed during the endodontic procedure or the entire main canal is not cleaned out, it could result in pain or symptoms like swollen lymph nodes after root canal therapy is complete, assuming reinfection develops.

Normally, we do not see an abscess near the root canal (swelling). Face, mouth, or tooth pain may be noticeable though. Our Encinitas dentist will need to take an X-ray of the tooth to evaluate the nerve canal and all of the bone around the root tip. Usually, if there is a failed procedure, some type of residual shadows will be visible on the X-ray. Other times, testing the tooth is necessary.

“What Are My Options?”

A failed root canal can result in two different outcomes: retreating the tooth or removing it entirely.

Root canal retreatments require special training and resources to complete, given that the tooth is already filled with a special material to seal off the canal.

If the infection is severe and the tooth or the bone around it is beginning to dissolve, Dr. Skeens may recommend extracting it. That way, the source of the infection is removed before additional structures are compromised.

In instances where the tooth is extracted, you’ll want to plan on replacing it at your earliest opportunity. A bridge or dental implant will help preserve your tooth alignment throughout your smile and make it so that you can continue eating normally. Without a replacement tooth in that space, other teeth will gradually tilt and wear down irregularly.

Dr. Skeens will provide you with one-on-one advice about what your best options are. We’ll be happy to answer any questions that you have.

Is Root Canal Treatment Worth It?

Absolutely. Dr. Skeens has completed countless successful endodontic procedures throughout his career and continues to recommend them for our patients with chronic toothaches or abscessed teeth. These safe restorations prolong your smile and are more comfortable to perform than most people realize!

Complications like infections after root canal treatment are extremely rare. If, for any reason, you have a complex case that requires specialized technology or resources to address, Dr. Skeens will discuss the situation with you and recommend the most appropriate steps to take.

Reserve a Consultation

Encinitas Family Dentistry provides comprehensive restorative options, including root canals in Encinitas. If you suspect that you have a failing root canal or an infection after previous endodontic treatment, Dr. Skeens can help.

Call our office today to reserve an exam.

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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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