Root Canal - Recovery

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How was your recovery from your root canal procedure?

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What kind of problems or complications may occur after getting a root canal?

Since a tooth that has had a root canal has been hollowed out to a certain degree, it is more prone to fracture. Getting a crown placed on the tooth will almost completely prevent this, but it can still happen. Sometimes there may have been an undetected crack at the time the root canal was performed, and the tooth may need to be extracted even though the tooth was treated with a perfect root canal.

In excessively curved roots, a file could break off inside the canal. Sometimes these files can be retrieved, but many times they cannot. If this happens, the tooth will be filled to the level of the file and monitored closely. If it was thoroughly cleaned before the file broke, the tooth may be unaffected. If not, it may need a surgical procedure to finish the root canal treatment.

Sometimes, if the pulp canal is difficult to find due to narrowing or calcification, the tooth may become perforated while attempting to locate the canal. The tooth is perforated when the dental drill starts from the inside of the tooth and communicates a hole through to the outside of the tooth instead of remaining centered. Many perforations can be repaired, but if severe, may cause the tooth to have to be extracted.

A root canal can become reinfected if the restoration has leaked, the patient doesn't have good oral hygiene, or because the sealing materials have degraded or broken down over time. Sometimes there may be more than the normal number of root canals in a tooth and the treating dentist may have missed the extra canal. This canal will still have infected tissue in it and will need to be cleaned out and filled. If a root canal has become reinfected, it can usually be retreated with another root canal. In this procedure, the endodontist will simply remove the gutta percha and sealing material through the opening in the tooth, clean out the canals and any additional canals, and seal them back up again. A retreatment is likely to be done in two visits. Sometimes a retreatment isn't possible and a tooth will require a surgical procedure to be saved. In this case, an endodontist may perform an apicoectomy, which involves accessing the root of the tooth through an incision made in the gums and bone. The tip of the root may be cut off and the area is cleaned and sealed from the end of the root.

Another condition that can occur after a root canal is discoloration of the tooth. Sometimes, this will even happen when the nerve in the tooth dies and can be the first sign indicating that a root canal is necessary. The tooth typically will become dark yellow, brown, or gray -- much more than surrounding teeth. If this color is an esthetic concern to the patient, especially if it is a front tooth, it can be treated with internally bleaching that specific tooth in a dental office or covering the tooth with a veneer or crown.

There have been claims that leaving a tooth treated with a root canal inside the mouth causes a variety of health problems, including cancer. These claims are based on an assumption that root canal treatment can never fully get rid of the infected tissue and tooth structure and that keeping infected tissue inside the mouth induces a response by the body that leads to health problems. Such claims are not based on sound scientific evidence and rely on coincidence and correlation for substantiation. Often, such claims are used to promote expensive alternatives to traditional dental treatments that result in profit for those making the claims. There is more evidence to refute such claims than to support them. People who believe they may need a root canal should seek out a competent licensed dentist whom they can trust to diagnose disease and deliver evidence-based dental treatment, including root canal treatment when needed.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: ginger, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 02

I had a root canal done over a year ago, I have went back 4 different times, having problems with it. It's my eye tooth. I have been on antibiotics for a week and just stop taking them. I woke up through the night with my tooth hurting and very sore. The dentist said he had to go with a 28 gauge, most of time 19 is as far as you go. Could it be something he's not doing or what. I'm so tired of hurting with this tooth. I started back on antibiotics, but I can't take them forever.

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Comment from: D.R., 45-54 Female (Caregiver) Published: January 24

I had a root canal done in early December 2011. I knew it was infected because of the tenderness, throbbing and very painful when I ate or drank anything. My gum above the tooth was very tender and swollen. I went in to see my doctor and he started right away on the root canal without treating the infection first!!! He began to numb my gums above the tooth. Several Novocain shots later, I believe I had a total of eight shots and still felt the pain of him drilling and pulling the roots out. I also said to him that there is a foul smell and taste draining into my throat. He replied that it is not related to my tooth. I wish I would have stopped him then. He continued to finish the procedure. The root canal is done. It IS January 22, 2012 and from the time I had my root canal to today's date I have had a small mess above my gums. It is very tender and sore. I work up this morning (1-22-2012) and my face looks like a melon on the right side. My neck is starting to swell and I feel like my eye is going to pop out of its socket. I have to wait until Monday to call and have someone fix the problem that should not have escalated to this. The doctor should have treated me with antibiotics before he ever tried to do the root canal.

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