Category Archives: Root Canal Treatment

I Don’t Think My Root Canal Worked

I’m a little nervous about a recent procedure I had. My dentist had to do a root canal treatment. My mouth is sore, even though it’s been a few weeks. The doctor said that is normal, but I would think in this amount of time it would be getting better. Sometimes it throbs. I’m worried it didn’t work. Is that possible? Could the dentist have made a mistake? Will antibiotics help?

Lillian A. – Connecticut


It’s possible that the root canal treatment failed. That doesn’t mean your dentist made a mistake. He or she can do everything right. They can do everything right and the procedure could still fail.

I’d do a re-treatment. Just taking antibiotics won’t help. In fact, it will make things work. It can’t completely get rid of the infection, so it will just ease the pain for a bit. Once the antibiotic wears off it will come back in full force.

However, taking an antibiotic right before the procedure through a few days after it can be useful. I will warn you though. A re-treatment only has a 50-80% chance of success.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.


Is it possible for a cavity to heal or go away?

It’s been months now that I have had a cavity. I think it is pretty deep in the tooth and the tooth is partially chipped. I don’t have dental insurance, so I have been putting it off for far too long. It used to ache and hurt when I first noticed it. But now it doesn’t hurt anymore. Did it go away? I do everything I can to keep it as clean as possible. I’ve even been rinsing with mouthwash daily. Did this heal it? If not, in my research, I saw that the the tooth will fall out eventually. Do you know how long that will take to happen? It’s one on my back molar teeth. Is there anything I need to do in the meantime, until it falls out?

-Jake in Ohio


Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, a cavity does not heal on its own. You mentioned that you didn’t have dental insurance, which has kept you away from the dentist. This is also unfortunate, because this could have been taken care of quite easily and economically early on.

It would still be in your best interest to see a dentist to see if the tooth is salvageable. Since you no longer have any discomfort, the cavity may have reached the inside pulp of the tooth. If that is the case, you may be dealing with a possible tooth infection. This can be quite serious if it is just left alone. The infection can spread to other parts of your body and cause serious complications. But the good news is, the root canal treatment may be able to save the tooth.

Waiting for it to fall out really isn’t the best plan. If you are young, you may be dealing with some painful, annoying consequences for letting it go down the road. Your teeth may shift around and your chewing efficiency may be compromised. You may also have bone loss to deal with. There are many affordable dentists around that will work with you on payments or make a plan to phase out treatment over time, so it fits in your budget.

In the future, keeping up with regular checkups and exams is far more economical and better for your overall oral health, than never going in.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

How do I find the best dentist?

I have a tooth that is bothering me. It has some sensitivity and has been tender on and off for months. My gums are also very tender. I get this strange pressure occurring near my eye and in my sinuses. That pressure usually happens when the tooth is really irritated. Then it fades. But I don’t think it’s ever really going to go away on it’s own and I probably need to have it examined. Do you know if I need to see a specialist? Or how do I find the best dentist for something like this?

-Becky in Texas


At this point, a general or family dentist should be the best dentist for you. Based on the symptoms you are describing, it is possible that the inside or pulp of your tooth may be dying. When the pain and pressure come and go, it indicates symptoms of a possible tooth infection, as well. Or these symptoms may indicate the the tooth has suffered a trauma. But you are correct, the tooth needs to be examined because it’s not going to heal on it’s own. If bacteria enters the inside of the tooth, you could require a root canal. The dentist needs to perform a full examination to determine what the correct course of action is to save the tooth.

The pressure near your eye and sinuses may be related to the nerves of the tooth. Sinus problems, colds and congestion can cause a toothache.

Although, you don’t have a dental emergency situation, you need to get in at your earliest convenience. You don’t want this to turn into a painful scenario and the sooner you seek treatment the more options you will likely have available. So, start with your general dentist and if needed they can refer you to a root canal specialist, called an endodontist. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Does the emergency dentist think I’m crazy?

My tooth hurts, again. I had it taken care of (or so I thought) about a month ago when I visited an emergency dentist. He decided to do a root canal. But I don’t feel like the pain ever let up. So, I decided to go back into the same emergency dentist because the pain was interrupting my daily life. Well, he did x-rays and examined the tooth. Honestly, the entire time I felt like he as humoring me. He basically told me I need to see a neurologist. Is he implying that the pain is in my head or something? Does he think I’m crazy? I feel like he was just trying to get me to leave. But my tooth still hurts!

-Jess in Maryland

Although your emergency dentist doesn’t sound like he had the most welcoming demeanor, he may be onto something. No, the pain isn’t inside your head and that’s not what he was implying by referring you to schedule an appointment with a neurologist.

If an x-ray and exam was performed and everything checked out, it is quite possible that your pain is being caused by nerve damage. This isn’t a common occurrence, but it does happen. This may explain why you feel like you have a toothache. If this is indeed the case, it would be in your best interest to schedule a neurological appointment.

Other issues that may be influencing your pain may be from your sinuses since the nerves are all intertwined in that area. A recent cold or even allergies, may also contribute to tooth pain. It is difficult to pinpoint precisely what is causing your discomfort. If indeed it turns out to be cold or sinus related, you will likely need a decongestant or possibly an antibiotic to clear up any infection. A general physician will be able to better diagnose this possibility.

All that to be said, the emergency dentist should have been able to provide you with additional information to steer you in the right direction. Sometimes root canals are not successful, but that should have been identifiable by an x-ray. It is also possible that the pain is from a nearby tooth that is referring pain to that same general area.

So, don’t settle if you are in pain. You are not crazy. It may be in your best interest to schedule a second opinion with a different dentist to see if they can continue to rule out any problems with the tooth and make proper recommendations on who you need to see next. Sometimes, tooth pain can be difficult to diagnose.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

My tooth is not fine. Could my dentist be wrong?

No one is perfect. So, does that mean a dentist can be wrong? Let me back up. It was over a month ago that I had a terrible toothache. The tooth needed a root canal treatment. The pain in the tooth did improve, but it never really went away. This past week, I have been in terrible pain once again. I couldn’t tell if it was the same molar or the tooth adjacent to it. So when I went into the dentist, he did x-rays to see which tooth was giving me pain. The x-rays didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary and he told me I’d be fine. I don’t feel fine. He then proceeded to tell me to schedule a consultation with a neurologist. Question – if I’m, “fine,” why on earth do I need a consultation with a neurologist? What is going on?

-Becca in Texas


This is a tough one to respond to having not seen your case in person. As strange as it may sound, especially after your recent troubles with one of your molars, it is possible for a tooth to be fine even if it is hurting.

One possibility is called referred pain. For example, sometimes patients will come in complaining of a severe toothache on one of their upper teeth. After an examination, the tooth that requires treatment actually has turned out to be located on the bottom. Other times, the pain may be coming from an adjacent tooth. When a tooth is infected in the same quadrant, the pain sometimes isn’t pinpointed.

Neuralgia is another nerve issue that feels like a toothache. But the pain is caused by the nerves and technically the tooth is fine. That would be when you visit a neurologist.

Still another possibility for tooth pain is caused by a sinus infection. When the sinus cavities are infected they can affect the roots of the teeth since they are located in such close proximity to them. Other health problems may cause toothaches, as well.

So to answer your question, your dentist may be correct that you do not need another root canal treatment. You did the right thing by going back into the office and having an examination. And he did the right thing by performing an x-ray. So this isn’t necessarily an issue of who is wrong. It is more ruling out the possibilities that may be causing it.

If you are convinced it is indeed a tooth, than it may be in your best interest to schedule a second opinion with an endodontist. These doctors specialize in root canal treatments and would be able to confirm your dentist’s findings or possibly make a different diagnosis. If you decide to get a second opinion, don’t tell the endodontist that you have already been in to see someone else. Don’t give them any preconceived notions. Just let them diagnose and make recommendations based on what they are see in their examination. You do need to inform the new doctor that you had a recent root canal and now you are experiencing pain again. If they ask you more about who you saw, etc. simply state that you would like a blind second opinion. If the new dentist knows your old dentist or contacts him to get more details, they could be trying to protect one another. So, having an independent examination is very important.

Good luck! Hopefully your pain is taken care of as soon as possible.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Did my dentist mess up?

My dentist has been “watching” one of my teeth for years. Finally it got to the point where it was infected and when I went into the emergency dentist that referred me to an endodontist. The root canal was done. But no one was really sure if all would work out since my roots were oddly shaped. It seemed like it was getting better, so I went back to my normal dentist for the crown to finish it off. Then, weeks later I ended up in agony with my entire face swollen. The emergency dentist extracted it immediately. I thought it was finally all said and done, but I still have lingering pain. My sinuses bother me now and I always have this nasty taste in my mouth. The jaw on the side of my face with the infection still aches on and off too. Did the emergency dentist mess up when he pulled it? I was on antibiotics to treat the infection. So, I’m wondering if it’s possible he didn’t get all of the tooth out when it was extracted?

-Sondra in South Carolina


Oh no! Well, it’s too late to tell you this at this point. But if you ever encounter a failed root canal treatment, go back to the endodontist. It isn’t common, but sometimes a root canal must be done twice. Having the tooth re-treated may have saved the tooth.

Anyway, the symptoms you are describing does sound like there is still something that isn’t right in the area. It doesn’t mean the dentist messed up and it also doesn’t mean that there was any portion of the tooth left behind. On the off chance that there was, it wouldn’t be the culprit. It is time to go back into the dentist as more of a precautionary measure. The issues that are bothering now, shouldn’t be associated with the emergency tooth extraction. But if you don’t feel normal, it’s worth getting checked out. You don’t have to treat it like a dental emergency if you aren’t in pain. So go ahead and schedule a normal dentist appointment to get checked out. Although, you may end up needing another course of antibiotics if the infection is still present.

That said, if you are in pain or notice swelling, get in right away for an emergency dentist appointment.

Good luck! Hopefully, this will all be behind you soon enough.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Will the emergency dentist’s treatment last?

I broke my tooth a week ago. A portion of one of my front teeth was broken off. I went to the emergency dentist because it happened over the weekend and my regular dentist wasn’t available. The x-rays showed that underneath the gums everything looked okay. So, he fixed it up with dental bonding and told me to follow up with my regular dentist. Well, the emergency visit was a bit expensive. So I don’t want to have to go back into my regular dentist, if I don’t have to. It looks fine to me? Do I really need to schedule another appointment?

-Jeff in Minnesota


The emergency dentist likely used a composite material used to patch up the broken piece of your tooth. This is the same bonding material that is used for fillings. Used in this manner, the dental bonding work should last for a couple years. In some cases, it may last longer.

That said, the emergency dentist encouraged you to follow-up with your regular dentist for other reasons too. Although the bonding looks good to you, when a tooth is traumatized there can be delayed symptoms or issues. For example, the x-ray may not reveal if the blood flow has been altered. If it has, the tooth may end up dying and may end up requiring a root canal treatment. It would be in your best interest to schedule the follow-up appointment to avoid more issues in the future. Symptoms that the tooth is dying or has become infected will be discoloration, tooth pain, or an abscess. It is typical protocol to refer you back to your normal dentist.

There is also a possibility that the tooth may require a crown and the work he did may be more of a temporary fix.

Thank you for your question. Hopefully, the follow up appointment will reveal that all is well.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Infection will not go away after having a tooth pulled.

I am so sick of dealing with the dentist. I had a root canal done at an endodondist’s office over a year ago. When the initial appointment took place, the doctor kept referencing “C” shaped roots. It didn’t seem like he was overly confident that all would end up well. I took antibiotics after the appointment and then I followed up with my normal dentist after six weeks. During that six week cleaning appointment, I still felt pain in the tooth. She recommended an x-ray and the dentist was on vacation. So I was told that the dentist would check it out when he returned. Well, I never heard anything. I assumed everything looked okay. When I was back for the next cleaning nearly six months after, I told the dentist that I still felt discomfort in the tooth and didn’t feel like the root canal was successful. After yet another x-ray, the tooth was determined to still be infected. He told me to call back to the endodontist. The endodontist’s office went ahead and prescribed Penicillin. After all this, I had to get the tooth pulled. After that was done, the facial pain and headaches finally improved. I think the extraction went well. But I can’t help but be concerned that the infection is not completely healed. Is it possible it’s worked into my jawbone? I really feel fed up with my latest experience and don’t necessarily trust that all is okay after everything that I’ve been through. I would love your insight.

-Larry in Nevada


It is unfortunate the failed root canal wasn’t re-evaluated sooner. Most often, an experienced endodontist will be able to re-treat the tooth and save it. Sorry to hear you have had such a long and difficult experience.

Since you did end up requiring a tooth extraction, the infection should be taken care of once and for all. This is because the socket is able to act as a point of exit for any lingering draining to take place out of the body. Although, it is possible for the infection to have entered the bone, it is pretty rare. It sounds like the improvement in your symptoms is a positive sign, as well. It sounds like you are finally healing normally.

If you have any doubts, there is no harm in following up with the oral surgeon. A stubborn infection may end up requiring a stronger dosage of antibiotics. If for some reason an infection is detected, be sure to explain to the doctor that you have already been through a course of Penicillin. You don’t want the strand to become resistant, so Clindmycin would be a good alternative.

Thank you for your question.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Confused about needing a crown after root canal?

My question is about one of my molar teeth. It had a root canal on it over five years ago. When the root canal treatment was completed, he put a filling on the tooth. Now, at my regular cleaning and exam, I was told I need a crown with posts. Is this really required? I would think a new filling would address the problem. Why wasn’t a crown done in the first place if he knew the filling wouldn’t last long?

– Silvia in Michigan


It is a bit unusual that the dental crown wasn’t originally placed when the root canal was done. Not every root canal requires a crown. Yet typically if the root canal was done on a molar tooth, a crown makes the most sense. Front tooth crowns may weaken the overall structure of the tooth after a root canal. So in those instances, a crown doesn’t always make sense. This is due to the fact that a root canal will make the tooth brittle and more susceptible to breaking. Since molar teeth are exposed to much more intense chewing force, a crown is appropriate.

So, at this point, it would be in your best interest to move forward with the crown. Also, a post may be required if there isn’t much natural tooth structure remaining. If there is sufficient tooth structure, you may not require a post.

Thank you for your question.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Novocain doesn’t work. Will sedation dentistry help?

My tooth is killing me and I can’t take it anymore. My face is even swollen from it and it hurts so bad. I think I have an abscess too. When I went to see the dentist, he started me on antibiotics and I’m scheduled for a root canal. But I’m freaking out because I don’t get numb from Novocain. I have had dentists give me multiple shots and it still doesn’t take away the pain completely. So I’m wondering if I should see a sedation dentist? Would that help someone like me? If not, I’d rather have the stinking thing pulled than sit through a root canal treatment in pain.

-Ben in Missouri


You definitely sound like a sedation dentistry candidate. If you are prone to high anxiety or have had negative experiences in the past, you may have difficulty getting numb. There aren’t too many doctors that are experienced in dealing with individuals like you, since it is rather uncommon. More Novocain isn’t the answer, as you’ve discovered. Stress can eliminate painkillers from working effectively.

Since you require a root canal treatment, oral sedation will give you the best chance to save the tooth. It’s completely safe and a simple process. The dentist will prescribe the medication that you are to take prior to your appointment. It will also be important that you get someone to drive you to and from your appointment. But the good news is, you will likely not remember anything about it. Although, you will be conscious (which means your protective reflexes like coughing and breathing on your own) will be fully functioning. So it’s not like general anesthesia that you would get in a hospital setting. When the medication wears off, it will feel like no time has past, almost like you just woke up.

You may be interested in seeing an endodontist that also administers sedation dentistry. An endodontist specializes in root canal treatments. Good luck to you! Hopefully you can get this taken care of sooner than later to relieve your pain.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.