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Root Canal Infection Symptoms

Dr. Degel Sep 19, 2018

Before and after root canal therapy digital imageAn infected tooth is a serious dental condition and requires prompt attention. To save an infected tooth from extraction, root canal therapy can be performed to remove bacteria and prevent the problem from spreading.

Here, our team at Astoria Dental Group in Queens, NY explores root canal infection symptoms and describes the warning signs that patients may encounter.

What Is Root Canal Therapy?

Before we discuss symptoms, we will take a brief look at root canal therapy, including how it is performed and what it accomplishes.

Before beginning the procedure, your dentist will numb the affected tooth and surrounding tissues with local anesthesia. Using specialized dental instruments, your doctor creates a small opening in the top of the tooth. This will allow him or her to access the internal structures of the tooth.

Once this is complete, the pulp, including the nerves and blood vessels, will be removed and replaced with a dental filling material. Finally, the tooth is sealed and a dental crown may be added for reinforcement.

What Causes an Infected Tooth?

There are several reasons why a tooth may become infected. Some of the most common include:

  • Deep dental decay
  • A large cavity
  • A large fracture
  • A knocked-out tooth that allows bacteria into the pulp
  • Certain tooth abnormalities
  • Repeated dental treatments on the same tooth

In short, any event that leads to a bacterial invasion of the pulp can cause a tooth infection.

Root Canal Infection Symptoms

How can you know if a tooth is infected? There are some symptoms that can only be identified by a dental professional. However, certain warning signs can let you know if root canal therapy may be necessary:

  • Pain: Dental discomfort does not always indicate an infected tooth. However, if you notice a pulsating, spontaneous, or severe toothache, it is likely the pulp chamber has been breached. If you have pain that does not go away with pain medication, call your dentist right away.
  • Swelling or inflammation: A common warning sign of infection, swelling can occur in the gums around the tooth or even in the jaw. This inflammation may be accompanied by bad breath, and it may even cause the tooth to shift positions so that your bite feels higher than it did previously.
  • Feeling ill: General malaise and fatigue can indicate the presence of a dental infection. If you experience a feeling of sickness accompanied by swollen lymph nodes or a fever, contact your dentist immediately.
  • Gum fistulas: Occasionally, a dental infection may cause a fistula to appear on the gums near the tooth root. This looks similar to a pimple and may have pus or infection draining out of it.  
  • Discoloration: Although not always readily noticeable, slight tooth discoloration can indicate that something within the pulp has gone wrong. This symptom is usually accompanied by one or more other warning signs.

If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, schedule a visit with your dentist. A proper assessment can confirm the cause of the condition. If you suspect you need root canal therapy, do not delay. The infection can spread quickly if not addressed in a timely manner.

Contact Us for More Information

To learn more about these symptoms, or to schedule a consultation with Drs. Degel or Every-Degel, contact us online.

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Astoria, NY 11106

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