Symptoms of a bad root canal

Written by george n. root iii
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A root canal can stop the throbbing pain that originates from an exposed nerve in a tooth. Even though it is assumed that a root canal solves the problem, it is possible for a root canal to fail. Treating a failed root canal is sometimes more difficult than the original root canal because a failed root canal sometimes means that the infection is more persistent than originally thought.


A root canal is used to prevent infection around a tooth, and to help save the tooth itself from being rotted out by disease. Within each tooth is a small chamber where the nerve of the tooth sits. This is called the root canal, and it is normally located in the centre of the tooth. A root canal procedure is when the nerve, or the canal, becomes infected and the tooth is hollowed out to remove the infection. Then to strengthen the tooth, a cap called a crown is put on it and the tooth is left alone. Once the tooth is in place after it has pushed through the gums, the nerve inside is no longer primary to the survival of the tooth. If the nerve, or the tooth, gets infected, it could lead to a domino effect of infection and disease, starting at the gum. A root canal procedure stops this infection from spreading.


A failed root canal can happen for several reasons. It could be the infection was only partially dealt with, or an infection was resistant to treatment. In either case, a failed root canal will allow infection to set in and cause pain and inflammation in the gum surrounding the bad tooth. It may be necessary to perform a second root banal, this one deeper and more thorough, to address the problem.

Incomplete Cap

Another reason for a failed root canal is when the dentist fails to put a complete cap on the tooth, and any remaining nerve material in the tooth starts to rot and creates an infection. This will normally result in what dentists refer to as root canal pain. Root canal pain can either be minimal to almost nonexistent, or it can be a constant throbbing pain that can be felt all over the head. It can develop into a severe headache, and will stay with the person until the failed root canal is repaired.

Brittle Teeth

A failed root canal allows the inside of the tooth to be accessed by bacteria, and other contaminants that will dry and rot the tooth. A failed root canal tooth becomes very brittle, and it can start to crack and fall apart if it is not dealt with immediately. Many people make the mistake of thinking that an emergency root canal is a complete procedure, and no further work needs to be done. The truth is that without a cap on the tooth and a complete root canal, even a tooth that has been worked on could still rot and crack.


When it comes to a root canal procedure, most of the pain involved happens before the tooth is repaired. Prior to a root canal, the nerve is exposed and causing a tremendous amount of pain. After the root canal, the nerve is removed and the tooth is capped to prevent exposure of the inner tooth. If pain is experienced for a long period after a root canal, then this could be the sign of a failed root canal and should be reported to your dentist immediately.

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