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: Florence H, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 02

I had a root canal in November 2014. I had so much pain, I returned in November again right before Thanks Giving 2014. My dentist informed me that the root canal was infected and that food was in my teeth. She cleaned it out and started to drill without giving me any pain injection of lidocaine, it hurt me so bad by reflex I grabbed her hand, so she stopped drilling, but she continued to clean out the infection. She packed my teeth with something that smells like bleach and cotton, I really think it was some type of bleach because she splattered it on my shirt, and now it has bleach dots. I could be wrong saying its bleach but it smelt just like bleach. She gave me a prescription for antibiotic and Motrin. I returned to the dentist with the same problem in January 2015, she said it was infected again while we were in the waiting room and gave me the same medicine. So when I got home I did my research online about root canals. So during my recent visit on February 18, 2015, the dentist told me my root canals is infected, and that she could see pus, but she stated the root canal looked good. So the dentist did the same thing, cleaned and packed my tooth, but this time I didn't smell any bleach. The dentist tried to hurry me off because she had an appointment, due to my frustration I asked the dentist how long will it take her to finish the root canal, and she told me some nonsense. I told her if she would do it correctly, I would not keep having all these continuing infections and if she would have done the root canal properly, food would not keep getting trapped in the area. So finally the dentist sealed my teeth, and I did feel better that day, but I think that the root canal is making me have other medical problems. My root canal area is painful, I think it is making the right side of my neck painful, and I rarely ever have a headache, now I am getting headaches on the back of my head. I just want this to be over.

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Comment from: Ezster, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: October 12

My recovery from my molar tooth root canal so far was successful. My specialist drilled a hole into my bad, old root canal and dug out the infection. He injected medication to treat the large infection and help restore the bone loss from the bacteria eating away over the years. Then, he filled the hole with a temporary filling. If things keep going well in the next three weeks, all I need is just the permanent crown and all will be good for a decade or two. I am in pain, my right ear hurts, and my tooth that was operated on. I was denied my prescribed Norco medication by many pharmacists. I have to resort to taking three 200 mg ibuprofen and two 500 mg extra strength Tylenol, as suggested by my dentist, I'm guessing for the possibility of not getting my Norco medication for the few days of pain. I guess, I can tough out the pain, since it is not extreme pain. The recovery overall, is going well. I am glad things are going well. Three weeks from recovery I will return to get my crown fitted in properly.

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