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Is this normal after a root canal?

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Mayo

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I had a root canal on Tuesday on a front tooth and it went well. Most of Wednesday I was totally fine but I did notice some minor swelling in the upper lip in the evening. Thursday morning my upper lip was huge. At least 3-4 times the size it normally is. I reached out to my dentist and he prescribed amoxicillin 3 times a day. By the 3rd pill (24 hours later) the swelling was definitely going down. Today, my lip is looking a lot better but still a little swollen. It’s hard to tell if there is swelling in the gums but I think there could be some (he also did a slight laser gum contour though too). If I lightly touch the spot where the root canal happened (a little above my lip and right below my nose) it feels sore to the touch but otherwise feels fine.

Without Advil the pain level has been moderate but totally manageable with Advil, which helped take the edge off. And today I haven’t needed to take any pain medicine at all.

I’m wondering if this all is normal? Could this mean my tooth is infected and if so does that mean he would need to do a retreatment? I was in little to no pain before the root canal so it’s quite alarming to be dealing with so much right after it. Also, I told my symptoms to my mom who has had many root canals and her reaction has made me even more anxious.
 
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MountainMama

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Not a dentist but in my experience, everyone’s root canal recoveries are different. After my front tooth root canal, I was told that it was completely normal for that spot you are describing to be sore...in fact the endodontist was pressing that exact spot every time I went in for a follow up appointment and kept saying that as long as it was improving, even slightly, all was okay. Mine wasn’t declared failed until about six months afterwards, when the tooth itself was still pressure sensitive and I had pain alongside my nose constantly.
Keep in mind that a root canal does a lot of tugging on the tooth ligament, so it will be sore for a while.
If you had work on your gums, that might explain the swelling, but hopefully a dentist can jump in and answer that. Any work on my gums, such as cutting, stitching, etc and that area around my lip and nose swells like crazy, and the third to fifth day after was the worst.
 
M

Mayo

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Thanks, that’s a little comforting. I’m also really nervous that he didn’t use a dental dam and according to what I’m seeing online, he should have. ☹

I’ve been anxious all day and I’m so scared I’m going to have to go back and do it all over again (or worse, get it extracted).
 
Niall Neeson

Niall Neeson

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Hi Mayo,

The swelling and tenderness that you experienced after the treatment is not uncommon. The majority of root canal treatments will lead to some tenderness to touch/ bite for a few days, often requiring some pain relief, and settle from there.

Some though will flare up with an infection response afterwards and it’s impossible to know when it’s going to happen and when it’s not. In my experience, the teeth that haven’t been causing any trouble (like yours) are more likely to do this. If the tooth is needing root canal there is often a low grade infection present that may have been present for some time. With our treatment we are cleaning the tooth and disturbing the area where the infection is lying dormant. This can be enough to irritate it and stir up a more obvious infection response.

Whether it’s tenderness only or an infection, generally it’s all part of the body’s healing response. Inflammation is the body responding to heal an area. Antibiotics were the right call for you and will help it along. So essentially I wouldn’t be particularly concerned about the long term outlook for the tooth based on the swelling you experienced.

I know it can be an unfortunate thing to happen (especially when it can be such a relief to have the treatment completed!) but I hope this provides you with some re-assurance.

Hope things continue to heal well and settle down for you.

Niall
 
M

Mayo

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Thanks Niall, that helps a lot. And makes so much sense. Should I be concerned that a dental dam was not used (it was on a top front tooth)? I think at some point I even accidentally touched my tooth with my tongue. Everything I'm reading online just seems to validate this fear that my saliva may reinfect my tooth down the line.
 
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Niall Neeson

Niall Neeson

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Hiya,

Well it’s certainly preferable to use a dam but at the same time I don’t know all the facts about the dentist’s decision making process so there may be a valid reason why he/ she didn’t use it.

Although I can’t say for certain, the inflammatory response that occurred afterwards would almost certainly have happened regardless. It’s unlikely to be related to the fact you didn’t have rubber dam. I’ve seen teeth that had root canal treatments without dam 20 years ago that are still going strong so there is still hope!
 
M

Mayo

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That’s good, I’ll hope for the best. Is it possible to just retreat the tooth if it does get infected due to a lack of dental dam with a high likelihood of success or would it most likely need to be extracted at that point in your experience?
 
Niall Neeson

Niall Neeson

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Yes, it could be re-treated if needs be
 
M

Mayo

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Thanks so much Niall. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer all my questions.
 
Niall Neeson

Niall Neeson

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You’re very welcome
 
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