Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is a dental procedure used by dentists to treat infected or dead teeth. The procedure involves removing the infected or dead material from within the tooth and root, then filling in the root canals inside the tooth to prevent the infection coming back. There is usually a crown or dental filling used on top of the root canal to help reconstruct and protect the tooth afterwards.
How do I know if my root canal has failed?
There is a recovery process from a root canal procedure, and it is perfectly normal to expect some discomfort after the anaesthetic has worn off. The process involved in the procedure may irritate the nerves surrounding the affected tooth, which can make the area a little uncomfortable for a few days. However, if the pain continues or worsens after two to three days, it could be a sign that there is something not quite right with the root canal or elsewhere in your mouth or jaw. There are several reasons for a failed root canal to occur. If this happens to you after your root canal procedure, you should go back to your dentist to see if there is anything else wrong or whether you have an infection. Whilst the majority of root canal procedures go to plan and patients experience no major problems afterwards, it is possible that your root canal might have failed.
What are the symptoms of a failed root canal?
If you think that your procedure has failed, there could be a number of different failed root canal symptoms to watch out for, depending on the reasons that the procedure hasn’t worked as it should have.
Pain: The most noticeable sign of a failed root canal is usually pain. If a root canal is carried out successfully, there should only be mild discomfort for few days or so afterwards, at most. If the pain continues or worsens after this, it can be a sign of the presence of bacteria in the root canal starting to cause an infection.
Whilst some minor pain or tenderness in the first couple of days after the procedure is to be expected, it’s unusual for this pain to last longer than two to three days at most, or for the pain level to increase at all. This type of pain could indicate an infection, which could be a result of the root canal cavity not being fully cleaned or properly filled during the procedure. If this is the case, the root canal procedure would usually need to be done again to make sure that the area isn’t prone to re-infection in the future. If infections are not properly treated and prevented from reoccurring, they can spread from the original tooth.
Sensitivity to hot or cold: If you notice that the area around the root canal procedure is suddenly sensitive to hot or cold, it can be a sign that you need to visit your dentist again to see if the treatment has failed.
Swelling: If the area around the root canal tooth swells up or is painful, it can be the sign of an abscess or another type of infection. It’s important to visit your dentist if you notice swelling or pus in the affected area of the mouth. If there is swelling inside the mouth or facial swelling around the area, it could be a sign of reinfection.
Pus or discharge: Pus or discharge around the treated tooth can mean that an abscess has formed, and this is sometimes (but not always) accompanied by pain in the root canal area.
Crown or filling failure: If the filling or crown, which is used to help restore and protect your tooth after a root canal procedure, falls out or becomes loose, you need to visit your dentist to discuss if any further treatment is needed. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the root canal procedure has failed, but you may require a new filling, crown or other further treatment to resolve the issue.
Experiencing any one, or more, of these symptoms after root canal treatment is a sign that you should see a dentist at the earliest opportunity to treat the cause of any infection and see what can be done with the root canal. An x-ray at your dentist’s practice should show whether the procedure has failed.
What happens if a root canal fails?
If you think that your root canal procedure has failed, the first thing you should do is visit a dentist so that they can determine the cause of the failure, treat your symptoms and advise on any further treatment that may be needed to resolve the problem.
If you believe that your root canal failed because of your dentist’s negligent care, and as a result of this you have suffered pain, further injuries including perhaps the loss of the tooth or severe distress, you may be able to make a claim for compensation for the failed root canal.
Contact the Dental Law Partnership for a free claim assessment so that we can determine if you have a valid claim to make.