Infected Tooth Years After A Root Canal 3 Reasons To Act Quickly
Posted on May 6, 2018 by twachendorf.
I had a root canal two years ago on my left upper molar. For the past month or so, the tooth has been making my breath smell bad. It also leaks pus. I think there is some swelling in the jawbone because when I woke up this morning, my cheek was puffy. You know Ive been putting this off because of fear of coronavirus. This afternoon I started feeling dizzy. Im terrified. The worse part about it that I decided not to return to the dentist who did the root canal because he wasnt careful. Although he used local anesthetic, I could feel him digging through my tooth roots. I feel stuck. Is there something I can do at home to control the infection, or am I forced to find a new dentist?
Turner from Alpharetta, GA
Although a dentist would to examine and x-ray a tooth for accurate diagnosis, it sounds like your root canal failed. If your dentist doesnt have a lot of expertise in doing root canal treatments, you will need to see an endodontistor root canal specialist. If you have dental insurance that requires you to be referred by your general dentist, you can call the office and ask for a referral. If youre uncomfortable with that, ask trusted friends or family members if their dentist is careful and patient friendly.
Can An Infection Spread To The Gums Or To Other Teeth
Like any other infection, a root canal infection can spread to surrounding tissue in the mouth, including other teeth, gums, and tissue in the cheeks and face.
The infection wont go away until its treated, and the longer you wait, the farther it can spread.
How far the infection spreads depends on how soon you get it treated after you start noticing symptoms. If you seek treatment hours or a couple of days after the infection starts, the spread can be minimized to the tooth itself or the surrounding teeth and tissues.
A root canal infection thats left untreated can spread far beyond the tooth. In some cases, the infection can spread to the jaw, the face, and even into the bloodstream.
What Causes An Abscess
All abscesses are a result of a chronic infection.
If the infection originates in the gum pocket, then gum disease is the cause of the abscess. You can read more about this type of infection in a gum pocket by reading how Susan effectively addressed advanced gum disease in her own mouth .
If the infection is located at the tip of the root of the tooth, then the abscess is the result of an infection from within that tooth or the region surrounding that tooth.
In both cases, the immune system is dealing with an infection. However, different than the splinter example above, these infections are chronic.
Gum abscesses are from gum disease, an imbalance of disease-causing microbes that have colonized under the gum line.
Tooth abscesses are primarily caused by a tooth becoming so decayed that the pulp becomes infected. They can also occur from a root canal gone bad. In both cases, the health of the tooth is severely compromised, a major battle is cooking, and the abscess is the sign of trouble.
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Tooth Infection Treatment Options
To treat tooth infection, your dentist cleans out the bacterial infection before repairing the tooth. This is known as root canal treatment. This treatment requires drilling of the infected tooth to get to the infected area. The bacterial infection is removed, and an antibacterial solution is used to clean out the root canal. After that, a dental crown is placed over the affected tooth for protection. Depending on the severity of the infection, your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
When To See A Doctor
A person should see their dentist at the first sign of a tooth infection. Early treatment will help prevent the infection from spreading into other tissues.
A tooth infection that has spread is a medical emergency. Such infections can quickly become widespread and severe. Systemic infections can be life threatening.
A person should contact a dentist for an emergency appointment as soon as possible. If there are no dentists available, a person should visit the emergency department of their nearest hospital.
A dentist or doctor will provide treatments to target the infection and stop it from spreading further.
The type of treatment that a person receives for a tooth infection will depend on several factors, including:
- the initial location of the abscess
- whether, and to what extent, the infection has spread
- the extent of the immune systems reaction to the infection
Possible treatments for a tooth infection include those below.
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The Tooth Infection Is Drained
It may be necessary in some cases to drain the pus directly from the site of infection. Drainage to remove the pus from an abscess at the back of the mouth may happen at your dentist office .
Even though most tooth infections can be easily treated, treatment should never be delayed. Untreated tooth infections can cause the tooth infection to spread to other parts of the body. If a tooth infection spreads, it could become life threatening. Therefore, if you suspect that you have a tooth infection, seek immediate dental treatment. The most effective way to prevent a tooth infection is to have good oral health care. Limit your sugar intake, brush your teeth and floss twice daily, and have good dental care habits by visiting yourdentist for regular cleanings and exams.
What Is An Abscessed Tooth
A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus from a bacterial infection. Abscesses can occur in different places around a tooth for different reasons and affect the involved tooth, but also the surrounding bone and sometimes adjacent teeth. Three types of tooth infections can cause abscesses:
- Gingival: This infection develops in the gums. It does not usually affect the tooth or supporting structures.
- Periapical: A periapical abscess is an infection that forms at the tip of the root. This occurs because bacteria can spread to the inside of the tooth to the pulp through a fracture or cavity. The pulp is the innermost part of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels. When bacteria invades the pulp, they can spread to the tip of the tooths root causing the infection to spread to the bone eventually leading to an abscess.
- Periodontal: This infection starts in bone and tissues that support the tooth. A periodontal abscess usually results from periodontitis or gum disease and is more common among adults.
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Symptoms Of Lingering Endodontic Problems
When any of the previous circumstances occurs with your root canal tooth, you may experience a range of symptoms. Here are some signs that indicate it may be time to make an appointment with your dental professional, according to the AAE:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold, or lingering pain after consuming hot or cold food
- Sharp pain when biting down or when tapping the teeth together
- Constant pain and pressure
- Swelling of the gums, with or without the presence of a pimple-like bump near the tooth on the gums
- A dull ache experienced consistently in the same area
These symptoms indicate there may be an issue with the pulp of the tooth, which is the interior portion of the tooth treated by a root canal procedure.
How Is An Abscessed Tooth Diagnosed
In addition to examining the tooth and surrounding tissue for signs of infection, your dentist may:
- Recommend an X-ray. This can help identify sources of dental disease that may have led to the infection. Your dentist can also use X-rays to determine if the infection has spread and may be affecting other areas.
- Recommend a CT scan. If the infection has spread to other areas within the neck, this will help to identify the extent of the infection.
- Tap and press on your teeth. A tooth with an abscess is often sensitive to touch or pressure.
- Thermal tests. These tests will help your dentist determine the health of your pulpal tissues.
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What To Do If You Have A Dental Abscess
You should see a dentist as soon as possible if you think you have a dental abscess. Avoid visiting your GP, as there is little they can do to help.
You can get help from:
- your registered dentist if it’s out of hours, they should have an answerphone message with details of how to access out-of-hours dental treatment
- NHS 24 service who can give you details of dental services in your area
- your local clinical commissioning group who can tell you the phone number of your local dental access helpline
- your local accident and emergency department if there are no other options or you’re having difficulty breathing
You may have to pay for emergency NHS dental treatment, depending on your circumstances. Read about NHS dental charges.
Eating Too Much Sugar
Sugar feeds harmful bacteria in your mouth. As they consume the sugar, they produce an acidic waste that damages your tooths enamel. Since the enamel protects the tooth, when it is compromised you can develop an infection. If you have a sweet tooth, you can mitigate the damage with extra brushing after eating sweets and by avoiding sticky candies that stay on your teeth a long time.
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Ways To Avoid Tooth Infection
A tooth infection is a pocket of pus that is caused by a bacterial infection. Abscesses can occur in different regions of the tooth depending on the cause of the infection. A periapical abscess shows up on the tip of your tooth, while a periodontal abscess is located in your gums and the side of your tooths root.
Dentists will treat a tooth infection by draining it and removing infected tissue. Usually, your tooth can be saved with a root canal, but in severe cases, your tooth may need to be pulled. While this may seem extreme, its better to pull a tooth than to leave infection and allow it to spread.
Leaving an abscess is not an option. Untreated abscesses can lead to serious, life-threatening complications. When left untreated, an abscess can cause bacteria in your mouth to enter the bloodstream, which can lead to an infection of your heart valves. This weakens the valves in your heart, making them more susceptible to other infections, irregular heartbeat, and other heart problems.
You Experience Stomach Pain
You should call your doctor if you, your child, or your infant has a high fever. A high fever is defined as:
- adults: 103°F or higher
- children: 102.2°F or higher
- infants 3 months and older: 102°F or higher
- infants younger than 3 months: 100.4°F or higher
Get immediate medical attention if the fever is accompanied by:
A tooth becomes infected when bacteria gets into the tooth through a chip, crack, or cavity. Your risk factor for a tooth infection increases if you have:
- poor dental hygiene, including not brushing your teeth 2 times a day and not flossing
- a high sugar diet, including eating sweets and drinking soda
- dry mouth, which is often caused by aging or as a side effect of certain medications
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What Causes Dental Abscesses
Your mouth is full of bacteria, which form a sticky film on your teeth called plaque.
The following can increase your chances of developing a dental abscess:
- poor oral hygiene plaque can build-up on your teeth if you don’t floss and brush your teeth regularly
- consuming lots of sugary or starchy food and drink these can encourage the growth of bacteria in plaque and may lead to decay that can result in an abscess
- an injury or previous surgery to your teeth or gums bacteria can get into any damaged parts of the teeth or gums
- having a weakened immune system this includes people with certain underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, and those having treatment, including steroid medication or chemotherapy
Why Pips Is Important When Doing Root Canals
So how do we get the bugs out of the tooth and tubules? you might ask. In his pilot study Efficacy of PIPS on root canals infected with Enterococcus Faecalis , Dr. David Jaramillio explores whether the Er :Yag laser in PIPS mode is effective in the elimination of bacteria from infected root canals. This research study shows how efficient and effective PIPS is in removing bacteria from the tooth during root canal therapy.
Here is an image from the study showing the tubules devoid of bacteria after treating the tooth with PIPS technology with the Fotona laser. To me as a dentist, this result is nothing short of amazing.
Here is another quote from a different research study. All instrumentation techniques left 35% of the walls untouched. O. Peters, IEJ 2001. In other words, when you are just using files to do root canals 35% of the tooth surface does not get cleaned because the files are not an efficient way of cleaning the canals out. In my opinion, there are bacteria left behind when using hand files and traditional root canal treatment.
In a recent advancement, Fotona has added the SWEEPS mode to do the same thing as PIPS, but do it even better. Please see the video above once again and you will see the action of PIPS and SWEEPS side by side. SWEEPS is like PIPS on steroids. Its like a tsunami of activity, an endodontist commented when its used in conjunction with root canal therapy.
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Treatment For A Dental Abscess
Dental abscesses are usually treated by a dentist. The dentist will drain away the pus.
If a problem with your tooth has caused the abscess, you may need root canal treatment, or the tooth may be removed. You’ll be given a local anaesthetic, so you do not feel any pain.
You may be offered painkillers to take for a few days after treatment and may also be given antibiotics.
Go Easy On The Sweets
So now you may be realizing that most of our advice is comprised of things youve heard since you were a child. Thats because these are the things that work theres no substitute for common sense. If you follow these principles, your likelihood of developing an infection is significantly lower than average.
So go easy on the sugar! Sugar feeds bacteria. Bacteria weaken teeth, cause tooth decay, and can create bacterial tooth infections.
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What Are The Symptoms Of An Abscessed Tooth
In some cases, the area around the tooth hurts, but not always. If it does, itâs usually a sharp, throbbing pain, especially when you put pressure on your tooth. It might also spread to your jaw or other parts of your face on the side thatâs affected.
You might also notice:
- Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- A bad odor when you chew with that tooth
Sometimes an abscess causes a pimple-like bump on your gum. If you press it and liquid oozes out, itâs a sure bet you have an abscessed tooth. That liquid is pus.
If you have swelling in your face and a fever, or you have trouble breathing or swallowing, go to the emergency room. The infection may have spread to other parts of your body.
Some Natural Remedies Can Help You Control Tooth Pain And Help Stop Tooth Infections From Getting Worse
The only way to truly get rid of an infection is with antibiotics. However, home remedies for tooth infection can help manage the symptoms and alleviate some of the pain. If you have a tooth infection you need to see a dentist to assess whether or not you need a root canal and to get prescription antibiotics to make sure that the infection goes away and doesnt cause any more pain or damage to your teeth.
There are some natural remedies that you can use to both help control the pain and help stop the infection from getting worse or spreading while you wait for the infection to die off. Not all of these remedies will work for every person but if youre in pain from an infected tooth they can bring you some relief.
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How To Avoid Ever Having An Abscess
While this subject of how to avoid having an abscess is a bigger subject than we can cover in one article, lets get you headed in the right direction right now.
We suggest addressing any oral health issue from a two prong approach.
On one hand, we must address this issue at the site of the infection. On the other hand, if we want to stop the risk of an abscess for good, we must strengthen our whole system immune response.
After all, only if we raise the health of our whole system can we expect our immune system to be able to effectively stop chronic infections.
To explain why system-wide immune support is foundational, lets use the analogy of a city fire department. If a city has a building on fire, the fire department shows up in a hurry and applies the full force of their firefighting capabilities to put out the fire. This is how we want our immune system to function.
What happens, however, if the city has 10, 50 or 100 fires burning all at once? The fire department cant respond to all the emergencies, right? They just dont have the resources to address all the fires sufficiently.
So, they determine which fires are more critical to get under control and which fires can be allowed to burn.
This analogy parallels what happens in our bodies every day. If we dont do the right things to support greater whole being immunity, we are simply going to stretch our immune systems too thin and some fires are going to keep burning and not be addressed.