My top right upper molar is sore. I had a root canal on the tooth in 2002. I first noticed slight pain about two months ago, but now the pain is more frequent and is intense sometimes. Yesterday I saw a small sore on my gum. Pus was coming out of it in the afternoon, and at the same time, the pain was more intense than usual. I’m afraid that I’m going to lose this tooth and need a dental implant. I’m hesitant about going to the dentist in the middle of a pandemic. Is there anything I can do at home to help the tooth until I’m comfortable going to the dentist? Thanks. Jordan from Richmond, VA
The root canal you received in 2002 failed. And that’s not normal. Root canal treatment doesn’t fail over time. Something caused it to fail.
Causes of Root Canal Failure
- Tooth not completely sealed – If the dentist who completed the root canal treatment didn’t fully seal your tooth, bacteria can leak in, infect the tooth, and cause significant pain.
- Untreated canals – Some teeth have canals that, without careful observation, go unnoticed. If the dentist doesn’t remove the infection from all the canals, it can linger and cause future problems.
- Cracked root – A cracked tooth root is painful. If a dentist can save your tooth, you’ll need some form of endodontic treatment, and the tooth will be protected with a new dental crown.
We recommend that you schedule an appointment with an endodontist or specialist. After an examination and digital x-rays, an endodontist is skilled at accurate diagnosis or treatment options, including another root canal treatment or root canal surgery. The specialist will also explain the risks and success rates.
If there is a chance of saving your tooth, let the endodontist try to save it. If keeping the tooth isn’t an option, a dental implant is the tooth replacement option that’s closest to mimicking the look and function of your natural tooth.
Accredited cosmetic dentist Dr. Michael Szarek of Lowell, MA, sponsors this post.