Ongoing pain a month after root canal

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Annette23

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I've always had an anxiety disorder and suffered from panic attacks, but never had a specific dental fear until the events of the last 6 months. At this point I'm beyond terrified and feel like I'm in a completely hopeless situation and don't know what to do anymore :(.

About 4 months ago, I went for a check up at a new dentist as I've recently moved. My husband had just been to him for a filling and said he was very good, so I wasn't worried. I have never had problems with my teeth, at the age of 33 I've only had 2 cavities and they weren't very deep. Because of that, I don't go for a check up every 6 months but around once a year. My last checkup at our old dentist had been over a year ago, but at that appointment he said everything was fine, maybe brush a little better, but that's all.

The new dentist said he saw that my an upper premolar had quite a big piece broken off, which was causing a lot of food and stuff to get stuck in there so he wanted to fill it before that would cause decay. I had never noticed this tooth being broken, but I did have surgery about 6 months prior, and they make you sign a consent form in which they mention they can potentially chip teeth while inserting or removing the breathing tube, so I reckoned this was probably what happened and I wouldn't have noticed because, of course, I was under anaesthetic. I agreed to let him drill and fill this tooth and he did.

When the local anaesthetic wore off, the tooth was sore, but I thought that would get better in a few days and chewed my food on the other side instead. After 2 weeks, the tooth was still too painfull to chew with, so I called the dentist and he said it can happen and it will go away eventually.

Well, another 2 weeks later the pain was worse and present all the time, not only when chewing, to the point I had a little cry which prompted my husband to call the dentist and demand I be seen immediately (I'm not assertive enough to do that myself, and don't like to make a fuss). My dentist wasn't working that day, so another dentist at the same practice saw me instead. He tapped the tooth which was very painful, then he held something very cold against it which is probably the most painful thing I have ever felt (and I've had multiple big surgeries). He decided I needed a root canal right there and then, which is where my anxiety kicked in because I had no time to mentally prepare myself and no idea what to expect as I've never had a root canal before. He went to work cleaning out the root canal, as I lay there having an intense internal panic attack for literally the whole hour it took him to complete the procedure. he put in a temporary filling and made an appointment for me with my regular denstist to complete the procedure 3 weeks later.

He said that there were 3 scenarios: that all pain would be gone immediately, that it would be painful for a couple of days, or that it would be pain free for a day or 2 and then painful for a few days and then get better again. I experienced the last scenario. the first 2 days all pain was gone and I was so relieved, I could even chew on that tooth and it was fine. By the third day, however, the pain kicked in with a vengence. My whole uper jaw was in agony all the way into my cheekbone it felt like. the tooth itself was so tender, that if even just my tongue grazed it, it felt like I had been punched in the face. I took plenty of OTC painkillers, but it would still wake me up in the night if I accidentally clenched my jaw or tapped that tooth with my tongue in my sleep. It was really very painful, I had really poor sleep for 4/5 days because of it. Then the pain started to wear off gradually and when the time came around for my second appointment, the pain was completely gone.

I was terrified for my second appointment, I was completely traumatised by the rubber dam as the only thing that helps a little with my anxiety are breathing exercises, so anything that obstructs my breathing freaks me out. Also, the feeling of not being able to get up and leave whenever I want gives me great anxiety (I don't even get my hair dyed at a hairdresser because the thought of having to wait there for 30 minutes before they rinse it out and not being able to leave before that should I so wish makes me feel awful). Also, because of Corona, you obviosly aren't allowed to bring someone with you into the clinic for support. However my husband told me just to explain the situation to the dentist and see if he would make an exception, if for example, my husband would wear a mask. The dentist understood and let my husband come in to hold my hand, thank goodness because that was literally the only thing that got me through it. The procedure was long and my jaw was sore from holding it open so long, but I survived obviously. The dentist was very thorough and used a microscope, he showed me the x-ray afterwards and I could see the tooth had one canal that he had filled all the way to the tip. He warned me it might be a bit sore for a day or 2 after, but it actually wasn't this time, to my great relief.

The tooth felt great, I could eat anything without problem, it wasn't waking me up in the night. I was so happy the whole thing was behind me! But, two weeks later, I was just driving my car and I felt that dreaded twinge in my jaw, reminiscent of the pain I had just after the first part of the root canal procedure, but nowhere near as intense. Ever since then, I keep feeling aches and twinges in the jaw bone and I guess the maxillary sinus just above it. Its not extremely painful, but I am aware of it and sometimes at night I need a painkiller to sleep. The problem is every time I feel the ache, it triggers my anxiety enormously because I'm terrified of the root canal failing or that I have an infection in the jaw that will result in bone loss or something! I called my dentist's office today and relayed my symptons. The assistant said she would ask the dentist what he thought and then call me back, but I'm sure they will just say, "Oh it will be ok, give it more time" like they did with the initial filling which then got so much worse.

I really don't know what to do, I really don't want to have another root canal procedure, because I've also nearly depleted my savings with the first round (I'm not insured for dental work because I never needed any until now and in the Netherlands you can only change your insurance once a year in January).

Could it just be that my jaw is still inflamed from the trauma and that it will settle down eventually? The pain isn't necessarily triggered by chewing or anything, it's just this ache or twinge that is sometimes a little more present and sometimes nearly completely gone. It's almost more like an itch in my jaw bone, if I had to describe it. Has anyone had a root canal take so long to settle down? All dental websites say if the pain is there more than a couple of days after the procedure, you have to back and have the procedure done again. It's really hard to find information other than that. I'm just at my wits end right now and feeling realy hopeless, sorry for the long post.
 
Gordon

Gordon

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It's perfectly normal to have little twinges from time to time for a few weeks or so after a root canal. It will just be the tissues healing, there's no need to repeat the root treatment.
 
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Annette23

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It's perfectly normal to have little twinges from time to time for a few weeks or so after a root canal. It will just be the tissues healing, there's no need to repeat the root treatment.

To me it doesn't make sense that it was completely pain free after the second appointment to finish the RTC and that it only started to hurt again over 2 weeks later. Wouldn't that indicate a problem? It was completely fine, I could chew everything but now it's sensitive to tapping again and it also give me pain twinges/ throbbing on and off throughout the day. I do have a bit of a cold at the moment, could that be causing it to flare up again?
 
Gordon

Gordon

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Maybe, what tooth is it?
 
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Annette23

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Maybe, what tooth is it?
Well last night I was in tears because of the pain so today I went back to the dentist. He took an x-ray and said there was no infection, in fact it looked better than the last time he did an x-ray just after the root canal. He checked my bite with the carbon paper and files a tiny bit off the tooth which really hurt when je did it (how can the tooth hurt if it doesn't have a nerve anymore I wonder). He said he only took off a fraction of a millimetre. I feel he adjusted the bite just to do something to humour me, but maybe it really was the bite I don't know, my jaw joint on that side was hurting too. He said the pain should be gone in a few days and if not, it might be a cracked root and then the tooth will have to be pulled. I hope this fixes it and it won't come to that because I really don't want an implant, my body doesn't react well to foreign bodies and medical implants. 😔

I find it hard to believe so much pain could be caused by a fraction of a millimetre high bite. Is that really possible?
 
Gordon

Gordon

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Oh boy, yes it can :(

The top of the roots is close to your nasal sinus for that tooth, so your idea about the cold affecting it is possible too.
 
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Annette23

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Oh boy, yes it can :(

The top of the roots is close to your nasal sinus for that tooth, so your idea about the cold affecting it is possible too.
I really hope it's one of those things then, or a combination of the both and that I will be pain-free soon! Thank you for your replies by the way!
 
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