Agonizing Root Canal Re-treatment Pain
November 10, 2014 10:13 AM   Subscribe

In horrible pain after root canal re-treatment today. What could be the cause?

I had a root canal done on my first molar 6 weeks ago. This is my third root canal and the procedure was relatively straightforward.

About a week ago the same tooth started to hurt. Not sensitive to hot and cold, but just painful to chew and it was sensitive it I tapped it.

I went back to my dentist this morning to have a look. He opted for re-treatment (I hadn't had a permanent crown placed yet). There was no anesthetic used as the nerves have obviously been removed. At one point during the procedure, my dentist's file went deep and caused excruciating pain, which he attributed to his file going beyond the root. I was given anesthesia and the procedure was completed. He said that the tooth was clean and looked OK, so I'll go back in a week to see if the pain has subsided.

Fast-forward to this evening and the anesthetic has worn off. Every 10 or 15 minutes I get an AGONIZING shot of pain deep into my tooth (similar to what I experienced when he was using his file initially) that lasts for 3-5 seconds. I have never experienced anything like this in my life. I am using 600mg of Advil and it barely masks the pain I am feeling.

Is this down to nerves in the surrounding ligament? I'm not sure what to do here as he said there was no sign of infection and all seemed OK. The pain is severe, which I don't understand given that the nerves have been removed.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
posted by Tenacious.Me.Tokyo to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call the dentist immediately. Demand a callback from his service. You may have dry socket.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:20 AM on November 10, 2014 [13 favorites]

Seconding to call immediately! This is not normal.
posted by Specklet at 10:23 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Was the tooth bleached internally? I had a similar sensation of pain after a root canal and it turned out that some of the bleach they put in the tooth to turn it white (for a purely cosmetic reason) had somehow leaked out of the cavity and into the rest of the tooth. I called my doctor immediately when the pain started and went in the next morning for a five minute fix that stopped the pain.
posted by neematoad at 10:25 AM on November 10, 2014

If this dentist does not specialize in root canals, you need to see a specialist.
Once my regular dentist did a root canal for me, messed it up, got infected, and had to go to the specialist to fix it.
Might make sense to get a second opinion from a specialist.
posted by littlewater at 11:05 AM on November 10, 2014

Nthing a specialist, but also, what saves me from constant agony every time a dental issue pops up (all too often, unfortunately) is running to any vitamin / supplement store, or Amazon if you can stand the wait, and getting a bottle of clove essential oil, or Eugenol, as it's formally known. It stings any skin (lips, etc) it comes into contact with for a few minutes, but a drop or two applied on or around the tooth does what not even a narcotic painkiller could do for me, and the effects last a while. It's not a fix - you do need to see someone - but it'll keep you comfortable, sans side effects, until you do.
I'm sorry, I know this sucks. Good luck.
posted by marsbar77 at 11:41 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

My wife had something similar happen. She discovered that she had an extra canal in the tooth in question and the dentist couldn't see it on the x-ray. She had to go to a proper endodontist (the root canal was done by a dentist) and he was able to do a microscopic root canal, which let him see the additional root under a microscope. Once that was done, she was entirely pain-free. Since you've had 2x root canals in the same tooth and you're still in pain, it seems likely to me that something similar is happening in your tooth.
posted by paulus andronicus at 12:22 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Did he give you stronger pain medication? Take that instead when you're ready for more Advil.

Clove oil may help as well. The dentist might give you some. I've used this in a similar situation.

Obviously these two things are short term fixes - you have a dental emergency, so call the dentist. You might have dry socket (which hurt me the way you describe your pain) or any other number of complications. I had a hidden root once that caused a lot of issues in addition to dry socket (I've had a lot of root canals!)
posted by sockermom at 12:23 PM on November 10, 2014

Dry socket is a complication of tooth extraction, not root canal therapy.

Sometimes materials used to fill a root canal can pass through the apex of the tooth and cause inflammation in the surrounding tissue. Call your dentist, and get in to see him/her for a diagnosis.
posted by Cuspidx at 12:32 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Sorry, Cupidx is correct. I've had so many tooth issues (and extractions) that it is hard to keep track of what caused what pains.

Call your dentist.
posted by sockermom at 12:50 PM on November 10, 2014

Nthing to call your dentist ASAP. You should not be feeling anywhere near this level of pain after a root canal, and your dentist will better be able to make the call on whether it's something that will go away on its own with a pain-killer prescription or if it's something that requires further dental work.
posted by Aleyn at 2:42 PM on November 10, 2014

I will put in to go to the ER. That level of pain, in that area is not normal. You should be evaluated for medical complications; many are possible. If your dentist went beyond the root, your jaw or the soft tissues in your head may be infected. I had a bad root canal once, with pain further down than it should be. It turned ou I had jaw necrosis.

Only an x-ray and CT of your head can tell this. If so you will need treatment that's beyond the pay grade of a dentist if that is the problem. Your jaw is very near to your brain - I am told that getting prompt treatment saved me from getting encephalitis (brain infection, I guess?) and worse damage to my facial nerves.
posted by sweltering at 5:16 PM on November 10, 2014

I've had the same experience: an older root canal would act-up from time to time. Just a low-grade annoying ache, but nothing *painful*. Since I work in the dental field, I had one of the best endodontists retreat the tooth. Totally elective mind you. That night, the most pain I've ever felt in my life! I had my employer dentist numb me up with triple the dosage of our longest lasting local anesthetic and tried to sleep it off. It lasted less than an hour before agonizing pain returned. I took: antibiotics, 800 mg Ibuprofen every 4-6 hours, and a steroid (medrol dose pack). There was never anything wrong with the work done, it was just enough bacteria stirred up around the ligament/bone around the tooth to really inflame it. It took about 48 hours to normalize.
posted by Jazz Hands at 6:22 PM on November 10, 2014

God, I had this same issue except instead of every 15 minutes the pain was almost constant and I have never felt pain like that before. It is excruciating! I had dry socket in one of the teeth and the one next to it I went to a specialist endodentist who had special miniscule files and he finished the root canal.
posted by thegoldfish at 9:07 PM on November 15, 2014

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