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6 Signs Of Infection After Root Canal

by Lily Morgen
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Root Canal

Root canals, medically referred to as root canal therapy, may be necessary when the pulp in the root of a tooth is infected or damaged. If left without treatment, this infection could spread and cause further damage to other teeth and even your overall health.

Although the root canal procedure is generally safe, keep an eye out for infection symptoms that may occur after the procedure. Common signs of infection include severe pain, swelling, pus leaking, fever, a foul smell, and an increased feeling of tiredness in the area of the root canal.

1. Severe Pain

You may most likely feel some soreness or discomfort in the area of the root canal after your root canal. This is normal and not an indication of infection. However, if you experience sharp, throbbing pain days or weeks later, you may have gotten an infection. 

2. Excessive Swelling

Swelling after a root canal procedure is also normal and usually subsides within 48 hours with rest and ice packs applied to the outside of the mouth.

The reason for swelling after a root canal is due to the body’s natural response to injury. When the infected pulp is removed, inflammation may occur and cause swelling in the gums, lips, or face.

However, if excessive swelling continues and persists for more than 48 hours, it could be a sign of infection that requires further medical treatment. 

3. Discharge Leaking

It’s common to experience some discharge leaking from the site of the root canal after the procedure. This discharge could contain blood and pus, although it should not smell bad or cause any pain. Discharge leaking from the root canal site typically occurs as a sign that your body is healing and the root canal procedure was effective.

But if you experience large amounts of discharge leaking, or the discharge is yellow, brown, or green in color and has a foul odor, it could be a sign of infection as those are caused by bacteria. 

4. Foul Smell Coming From the Mouth

If you breathe out of your mouth and notice a foul smell coming from it, this could be an indication of infection. The bacterium that lives inside your mouth can cause this bad odor, and when it gets into the root canals of a tooth it can make the smell even worse.

5. Fever

Fever is the most serious sign that an infection has occurred after a root canal. This is because fever is the body’s immune system‘s response to bacteria when it senses something foreign in the area. 

A small part of people may experience a slight fever as their body adjusts and heals from the procedure. However, if your temperature rises above 99.5 °F, it is likely a sign of infection and should be addressed by your dentist as soon as possible.

6. Increased Feeling of Tiredness

If you are experiencing a decrease in energy and an increase in tiredness, it could be due to the body’s response to an infection after a root canal. Infections can cause the body to expend energy in order to fight off the bacteria that is invading it and this can lead to feeling tired and weak.

What Causes Infection After Root Canal?

There are several reasons why you may get an infection after a root canal. Root canal infections occur when bacteria enter the pulp chamber of a tooth and infect the soft tissues, nerves, and blood vessels.

1. The Root Canal Procedure May Have Been Incomplete

During a root canal, your dentist must clean out all of the diseased tissue inside the tooth and fill in any cavities or other areas of decay. If there are spots that weren’t completely filled in or cleaned properly during the procedure, it can easily infection.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to thoroughly clean and disinfect all of the nooks and crannies of the root canals due to the complication of the shape of your root canals. This can lead to bacteria being left behind and causing infection. 

2. Delay in Placing Your Crown

Another common cause of root canal infections is a delay in placing the crown. The crown is placed over the root canal to protect it from bacteria, but if it isn’t placed soon enough, bacteria can enter and travel down into the root canal, causing infection.

3. Your Tooth May Have Extra Canals

Sometimes teeth can have extra root canals that are not visible to the naked eye. These extra canals are unable to be filled and therefore cannot be protected from bacteria. If these additional canals are not treated, the bacteria can then spread and cause an infection.

4. Don’t Follow Post-treatment Instructions

You need to follow all post-treatment instructions provided by your dentist, including eating soft foods and avoiding strenuous physical activity that may aggravate the area of treatment.

Proper oral hygiene practices should also be followed to help reduce the risk of infection. 

Improper oral hygiene can also cause root canal infections. Not brushing and flossing your teeth regularly can lead to a buildup of plaque, which is a haven for bacteria. If this bacteria enters the pulp chamber through a crack in the tooth or from food particles trapped in between the teeth, it can rapidly spread throughout the entire root canal system, leading to infection.

Final Thought

If you have recently had a root canal and are experiencing any of the above signs, it is important to contact your dentist right away. 

Early detection and treatment can help prevent further complications from an infection and speed up the healing process. Your dentist will be able to diagnose the issue and create a plan of action to make sure it’s properly treated. 

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