Effects of post-root canal infection?
June 4, 2007 10:41 PM   Subscribe

Are there any known systemic effects of low-grade root canal infection after treatment?

I visited the dentist last week for the first time in a while, and a routine X-ray of a tooth that had had a root canal procedure performed years back (by another dentist) revealed that there was a bit of infection in a root tip that was probably not fully cleaned out. It's watch-and-wait for now, but I'm wondering if this lingering infection could possibly be exerting any effects on my general health -- specifically, if it would affect any part of my blood counts.
posted by greatgefilte to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
Yes -- you may want to check bacteremia and sepsis, which is the spread of infection to other organs via the blood. I'm not a doctor though so I'm not sure if there would be long term danger or what the effects would be.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:52 PM on June 4, 2007

A chronic infection could potentially affect virtually all of your blood counts including your white blood cells (typically high), red blood cells (which may be low), and platelets (typically high). These are not rules and often the counts may look completely normal. Blood counts are fairly non-specific, and should be interpreted with caution.
posted by drpynchon at 1:00 AM on June 5, 2007

I'd be surprised if an X-ray could tell the difference between an active infection and a hole where an infection used to be. If it was done years ago, and it's given you no pain, I'd expect it's fine. But I'm just some random guy on the Internet with an opinionated opinion, so you should, you know, ask your doctor.
posted by flabdablet at 5:04 AM on June 5, 2007

Ehm...I'm not a doctor or a dentist but that doesn't sound right. Are you having pain in the area or in your lymph nodes? I mean, infections generally just don't hang out and do nothing right? I had a root canal get infected shortly after it was done and it was the worst pain of my life.

If it is infected they shouldn't be doing anything to it until the infection clears up anyway because it'll be that much harder to give you anesthetics. So...pop some antibiotics, and if you're really worried about the infection coming back have the tooth re-worked.
posted by Roman Graves at 1:18 PM on June 5, 2007

Actually...if they told you it was "watch and wait", it sounds like what you meant to say is that there is still nerve activity in the tooth (which often happens) and the potential for infection. Unless your dentist is a crack head s/he wouldn't suggest you leave an infected tooth alone.
posted by Roman Graves at 1:22 PM on June 5, 2007

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