Root Canal Infections and Jaw Infections: Causes and Preventions
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Root Canal Infections and Jaw Infections: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

September 25, 2023

 Root canals are known to be pretty safe and are done quite commonly by dentists all around the world. While it is rare for patients to experience complications after the root canal treatment, there are still chances of having an infection after a root canal. 

It is necessary to know the symptoms of a jaw infection after a root canal so that you can seek medical intervention and stop the infection from spreading further. In this article, we will find out the most common symptoms of an infection after a root canal along with the causes and treatment. 

What exactly is a Root Canal?

A root canal is done to repair the damage sustained by the tooth due to an infected pulp. A dentist will remove the infected pulp after drilling a hole into the affected tooth. The gap is filled and the tooth is sealed generally by placing a crown over the affected tooth to protect it for the future. 

Should you feel pain after a root canal treatment?

It is quite common for patients to feel mild pain and swelling after getting a root canal treatment. Since the pulp contains blood vessels and nerve endings, the area around the treated tooth becomes inflamed and that may cause some discomfort for a few days. 

Your dentist prescribes you a dose of OTC painkillers to keep the pain and swelling under control. While you are taking the prescribed painkillers, you should not be having much pain. However, if that is the case and your pain does not subside even after 1-2 weeks of treatment, you should have it checked. This is not normal and may point towards a root canal infection. 

You should know the symptoms of jaw infection after a root canal so that you can seek timely treatment. 

Root Canal Infection: What exactly happens

Root canals are done mostly after a tooth has been damaged after decay. Root canal infections may also happen if your tooth is damaged due to a different cause but the bacteria have managed to reach the pulp. Now, most of the time, a root canal will successfully treat such an infection. However, if the root canal has not been done correctly, reinfection can occur. A dentist will thoroughly clean the area to remove all infected pulp. If any bacteria remains, you can get a root canal infection or a jaw infection after the root canal

How long after a root canal can you get a jaw infection?

If the infected pulp has not been completely removed, you will start to show signs of root canal infection right from that day. On the other hand, if you feel lasting pain even after 1-2 weeks post-treatment, chances are that the affected area was not properly disinfected, therefore causing re-infection. 

Why is a Root Canal infection caused?

An infection after getting a root canal is rare, but not impossible. Even if this is rare, it can happen and that is why you should know how it happens. 

A root canal infection may be due to several reasons 

  • Your dentist may have delayed placing a crown over the treated tooth. Sometimes, bacteria are quick to get into open areas. 
  • Extreme infection or reasons causing bacteria to stay 
  • Insufficient cleaning of infected root canals 
  • Presence of bacteria in accessory canals 
  • The presence of bacteria in unfound areas because of complexly shaped root canals 
  • Insufficient sealing of the cavity during treatment 

If you do not seek immediate attention, the root canal infection may spread and turn into a full-fledged jaw infection and may affect other parts of your face too. This is why you should go to your dentist at the first sign of infection. If an infection is left untreated, it may spread to your jaw, face, and bloodstream. 

Symptoms of jaw infection after root canal 

You can prevent complications by being vigilant about the signs and symptoms of an infection after getting a root canal. You should know that infections can be stopped and your health can be restored. This is why knowing the symptoms is the best thing for you. 

Here are a few symptoms of a Root Canal infection after getting a root canal 

  • Constant pain 
  • Increased lingering tooth sensitivity 
  • An abscess on the area around the root 
  • Chronic foul smell from mouth 
  • Constant bad taste in the mouth 
  • Tooth discoloration 
  • Unexplained fatigue 
  • Unexplained or sudden fever 

When to see your dentist for a Root Canal infection?

If you sense any of the signs of a root canal infection, you should visit your dentist immediately. Infections can be dangerous if they are left untreated. If a root canal infection is left untreated, it may spread to the jawbone and start eroding it. Untreated infections may cause the bone to deteriorate and the affected tooth/teeth may need to be extracted. 

You should know that significant bone loss is not reversible and you may not even qualify to get implants after a certain stage. This is why you should not delay the treatment and seek the advice of your dentist. 

Your dentist may perform a process very similar to your initial root canal. After using X-rays to find infected tissue,  your dentist will follow general procedures to numb the tooth and drill into the affected tooth to remove infected pulp and clean the surrounding area. 

Your dentist may place a dental crown after carving off some enamel. This will be done with the intention of preventing any further infections in the future. 

How to prevent Root Canal infection?

The best way to prevent root canal infection is by taking good care of your teeth and overall oral health

After a root canal treatment, you can prevent infection by using antiseptic mouthwash for a week or as required. You may take the OTC pain and swelling medication as prescribed by the dentist. Follow the oral hygiene instructions given by your dentist. 

If you take good care of your teeth, chances are that you may not need a root canal in the first place. Brush and floss your teeth twice a day. Rinse your mouth after every meal. 

You should get regular dental cleaning and examinations from a trusted dental clinic. 

If you have any questions related to root canal infections or other dental issues, feel free to contact us at Kirkland Premier Dentistry. Our team of dental experts will be glad to answer your questions and suggest possible treatments. 

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