At the centre of each tooth is the root canal system, which contains the dental pulp. Unfortunately, bacterial infections can damage the pulp. When this happens, a root canal procedure can remove that bacteria to save the tooth.
Most root canals will present no complications, but there is a chance bacteria can re-enter and cause another infection. A dentist should be able to treat the condition with antibiotics when it is caught fast enough, so it's vital to seek treatment as soon as possible if you suspect your root canal has become infected.
Here are just five signs that might have happened.
Some pain or discomfort is normal after a root canal, but this should only last for a couple of days and should not be severe. If pain lasts longer and seems to be growing more intense, an infection may have developed. Pain is often worse when pressure is applied, such as while eating, and it generally grows worse when you eat or drink anything hot or cold.
2. Bad Taste or Breath
Bacterial infections create bad odours as they thrive, so any infected tissue will often create a bad taste or odour in the mouth. If you notice an unpleasant taste that seems to be coming from the tooth that just had a root canal, or if you experience bad breath that won't seem to go away, you may have an infection.
3. Persistent Abscess
Before having a root canal, many patients develop abscesses near the affected tooth. This should diminish and disappear after a successful root canal, but it may remain if the area becomes reinfected. Greenish or yellowish pus will often leak from that abscess, especially when placed under pressure.
4. Heat or Swelling
If your root canal becomes infected, you may find the area surrounding that tooth becomes abnormally warm. In many cases, this will be accompanied by swelling, and that swelling may spread to the neck and face if the condition is left untreated. This is a sign you should contact a dental professional immediately since a spreading infection can result in serious complications.
As with other types of infection, an infected root canal will often cause a fever. If you have a high temperature or feel unusually run down soon after having a root canal, it's worth visiting an emergency dentist without delay, even if you aren't experiencing any of the other symptoms listed above.
Contact your dentist for more information.