Aching pain after root canal
January 9, 2013 9:18 PM   Subscribe

I had root canals redone (by an endodontist) and crowns placed on two of my upper teeth (by my dentist) that are side by side early last year. All was well until yesterday morning, when I woke up with a dull throbbing aching pain on where those teeth are, but especially on the one tooth. It doesn't seem to be sensitive to hot and cold, but chewing on that side hurts. I already have an appointment with my dentist, but would appreciate it if anybody who knows can give me the worst, best, and most likely scenario of what I am facing so I can prepare myself. Thank you so much. Anecdotes if you experienced something similar are also appreciated.
posted by skjønn to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Root canals can fail. That's one possibility, and one way they can fail (this happened to me) is if there is a slight fracture somewhere in one of the canals. Such a fracture is very hard to detect on an X-ray or even during a root canal. One result if such a fracture is that gum tissue starts to re-grow up into the fracture. This tissue could get infected, and that could be the cause of your pain.

The result of that, for me, was extraction of the tooth, followed by an implant. None of these procedures are at all painful, if that's a concern of yours, but an implant is expensive and even having dental coverage won't cover this, for some damn reason I don't get.
posted by Philemon at 9:27 PM on January 9, 2013

I've experienced pain on 2 different crowns after a few days when they were put in, and both turned out to be a case of a being slightly too high. A followup visit to the dentist involved me biting on some thin marking tape which showed the high points on the new crown, which the dentist slightly buffed down. Solved the pain. YMMV.
posted by jaimev at 9:31 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you have any other condition, such as a sinus infection, that could be causing temporary inflammation in your dental area?
posted by Dansaman at 10:28 PM on January 9, 2013

I had to have a root canal redone because the dentist who did the procedure was not good enough to catch the roots she missed. The endodontist I saw afterwards drilled a hole in the side of the crown and inserted a microscope and drill small enough to get into, find, and remove the remaining roots. Apparently, this procedure is not too uncommon for molars, where roots can hide from x-rays. The redo was an improvement, but bite adjustments (grinding down the crown slightly) were also required to relieve pressure on my jaw and associated pain.

Mainly, it was time, hassle, and a lot of money getting things fixed -- the redo cost more than the initial root canal, about $1600 for the redo and $1000 for the root canal, and the bite adjustments were about $700, in total. In hindsight, the expense was the worst part. At the time, I was freaked out about a life of constant pain, which turned out not to end up happening. I get the occasional bit of jaw pain, but nothing like what I had.

My guess is that they'll rule out bite problems first, since those are easier and cheaper fixes. If that doesn't work, you might get sent to an endodontist for further exams to look for unexcavated roots. Hang in there, you'll make it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:58 PM on January 9, 2013

I had a root canal on one of my canine teeth at the top and they hurt every time I have allergies. A follow up x-ray showed that the root filling presses into my sinus cavity slightly so that's why. And yeah, it's excruciating when I get a sinus infection (which is what sent me back for the follow up).

The root canal can fail and need more work, and in that case it's better to get it seen to sooner rather than later, but if it's a front tooth it might be a sinus issue or too high crowns or something else easily fixed too. So try not to worry until you see the dentist and make sure they take x-rays right up to the top of the filling.
posted by shelleycat at 12:26 AM on January 10, 2013

Assuming you don't grind your teeth -- if it hurts least in the morning, and worst some time after eating, it's probably the crown is too high. The fact that chewing (pressure) worsens it, but heat/cold do not, also argue for this.
posted by eriko at 2:31 AM on January 10, 2013

Possible infection. Also, this happened to me and, like others in the thread, the crown hadn't been filed down enough and was too high. A quick revisit for adjustment fixed it.
posted by Cocodrillo at 3:48 AM on January 10, 2013

This happened to me also with a root canal, but as mentioned above, it was actually a sinus infection/cold which was affecting that area of my mouth. The pain went away in a few days.
posted by cornflakegirl at 3:49 AM on January 10, 2013

N'thing the possibility of an infection. It happened to me on a tooth that had a root canal and crown where the crown broke and was replaced. I now have an implant and crown in its place. Don't wait to see a dentist. If it is an infection, it can seriously damage healthy bone and teeth.
posted by tommasz at 6:47 AM on January 10, 2013

I just went through this about 2 months ago. It was an infection in the bone above a root-canal'ed tooth. A few years after a root canal, I recently developed aching & pain above that area. It was an infection and an endodontist thought the root canal had to be redone from the inside in case there was still root tissue there, so he opened the gum & cleaned out the infection only to find that the root was cracked, a teeny tiny hairline fracture. The only remedy was to have the tooth extracted (after waiting a month to heal after that endo appt. and taking several rounds of antibiotics). The reason is that if a root is cracked it will keep channeling bacteria into the gum/bone and the infection won't go away. That extraction was... unpleasant, and I will be getting an implant later this year. Since root canals hollow out the root structure it weakens the tooth, and cracks are common. Definitely see an endodontist. And ask for the gas.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 7:43 AM on January 10, 2013

It may be that a dose of antibiotics takes care of your issue for short or long term. I had a root canal and permanent cap that ended with tooth removal and implant.

The long story: I had pain in my head localized around the upper tooth root canal and generalized to my entire face and head for 2 years. I went to my dentist, the endo specialist who did the root, 2 other dentists, my primary, a natural homeopathic remedy MD, a ENT who CAT scanned my head - some of these repeatedly and this is in an urban area known for medical university and centers. I took Ibuprofen a few times a week. Only my chiropractor and the natural MD doctor said they thought it was dental. Everyone else kept telling me I was grinding my teeth, had sinus issues - even though the CAT showed I did not!, and finally my primary said maybe I had migraines and gave me an RX for a seizure medicine and a referral to a neurologist. Seriously. I hope to believe I do not come across as especially neurotic, however, I think I was treated as such. My dentist and endo in particular bounced me back and forth. Even after I developed an abscess in the gum of the tooth the endo gave me an antibiotic rx used for treating skin infections and told me I had gum issues. The abscess didn't go away and I thankfully found a wonderful dentist who is modern and wholistic. He removed the tooth which fell out of the socket because so much bone was eaten away by infection. I've had a skin graft, 2 bone grafts and an implant which almost wasn't possible because so much bone was gone. I selected the implant dentist very, very carefully. I still drive an hour to see my dentist.
posted by kimmae at 8:41 AM on January 10, 2013

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