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Root Canal Infection: Do I Have One?

Root Canal Infection: Do I Have One?

Root canal therapy provides fast relief for severe dental infections. While it is not very common, root canals can become reinfected after this endodontic procedure. Landmark Dental Arts has helped many Kearny Mesa residents after root canal infection, and we’d love to help you too! If you’re wondering, “When should I visit the dentist for infected root canal treatment?” then keep reading to learn more about the signs of infection after root canal therapy.

What is Root Canal Treatment?

A root canal is a routine procedure to treat infected or dying teeth. During treatment, the dentist removes the dental pulp and cleans out the canals that feed into the tooth. Then we seal these canals with special material to prevent bacteria from reinfecting the tooth.

Our Kearny Mesa dentist often recommends root canal therapy when a tooth infection is so severe that bacteria has compromised the pulp. When this happens, the infection can kill the tooth and cause it to eventually give out entirely. Without a root canal, we may need to extract the tooth to prevent the infection from spreading.

How Do Root Canals Become Infected?

Although the goal of a root canal is to remove all harmful bacteria and nerve tissues, it is possible that the treatment isn’t 100% effective when certain situations are present. In other cases, lifestyle choices or trauma can cause the tooth to become infected again.

Here are some causes of root canal infection:

  • Seal leakage or contamination: Root canals are intricate passageways that sometimes have twists, turns, or areas that are hard to reach without the right equipment. If an area is not sealed off because it’s overlooked, it will allow infectious bacteria to get back into the tooth.
  • Hidden nerve canals: Tooth roots can have accessory canals that form in atypical places, including the sides of the root. A dentist may fail to seal one because of how small it is.
  • Leaky crown margins: If the crown fails to seal the tooth off because of recurring decay or a break in the bonding agent, bacteria cause new areas of infection.
  • Trauma/Decay: Cracks can form because of trauma or continued decay, putting the tooth at risk of infection.

Signs of Infection After Root Canal

If your root canal fails, you will certainly notice it. The root canal infection symptoms are usually the same as the initial symptoms that prompted you to get root canal treatment to begin with. Call Landmark Dental Arts if you notice any of the following symptoms.

Persistent Pain

An infection in the tooth causes noticeable pain. It can happen eating and drinking or may be a dull ache that never goes away. If you feel pain, it may be a sign that the infection has returned or your tooth is cracked.

Since root canal treatment removes the nerves from the tooth, it should be numb to temperature changes or stimuli. Please let us know if you experience sensitivity or pain, as root canal treated teeth shouldn’t hurt after the procedure.

Dental Abscess

Tooth infections can grow so large that they form an abscess deep around the roots of your tooth. This infection can eventually become cause a pimple or blister to form at the base of the tooth. Dental abscesses can be painful or cause a salty taste if there is discharge.

Without treatment, the infection can spread deep into the gums and bone. In the worst cases, it can lead to serious facial or brain infections, requiring hospitalization.


Swelling from a root canal infection will typically occur near the jaw and cheek. If it spreads into your face or throat, head to the nearest emergency room.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

There are sets of lymph nodes located on the side of your neck between your ears and collarbone. These nodes produce fluids that your body uses to combat infections. Your lymph nodes might swell if your root canal becomes infected because it is working overtime to attack the source of the infection.

Schedule an Evaluation

Don’t hesitate to call Landmark Dental Arts if you notice any symptoms of a root canal infection or have other concerns. Our Kearny Mesa dentists will be glad to examine your teeth to see if your root canal has become infected.

Call today to schedule your appointment.


Landmark Dental Arts
4540 Kearny Villa Road, Suite 116
San Diego, CA 92123
Phone: 858-571-3534
Fax: (858) 571-5826

Monday By Appointment Only
Tuesday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wednesday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Friday By Appointment Only
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed