After getting three new crowns last month, my bottom left second molar became so painful that it caused headaches. My dentist took an x-ray and said the tooth was infected, and I would need a root canal. After the root canal, my dentist said she found four canals. Despite antibiotics, the tooth continues to hurt.
My dentist asked me to take antibiotics for another ten days. I feel that something is really wrong, and I do not know if the pain is referring, but now my upper tooth is sensitive. I’m getting so anxious that I do not think nitrous oxide will be enough to get me through this appointment. I am embarrassed, but I need something stronger. Could my tooth still be infected? – Kate from N. Dakota
Thank you for your question.
Dr. Thomas would need to examine your teeth and x-rays for an accurate diagnosis. He would also need more information, including what triggers your pain, when you feel it, and whether it is improving a little.
What Are Possible Causes of Post-Root Canal Pain?
If you have pain after root canal treatment, possible causes include:
- Lingering infection in a canal
- Referred pain
- Post-operative inflammation
Lingering infection in a canal
Although most molar teeth have three canals, sometimes a tooth has four or even five. If any of the canals are angled, or your dentist missed a canal, a lingering infection would cause tooth pain.
Another tooth may be the origin of the pain that you feel. If the tooth that hurts is sound, your dentist needs to look at nearby teeth that might refer to pain.
Root canal treatment can cause inflammation and swelling. When you bite or chew, the opposite tooth (upper or lower) will hit the inflamed tooth, making it hurt even more. It takes time for your body to fight the inflammation.
If the pain is not decreasing or getting worse, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Do not wait until you finish all the antibiotics. Talk to your dentist about finding a level of sedation to match your anxiety.
Dr. Siny Thomas, a Sugarland, Texas cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.