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Root canal problems are usually mild, and can include reinfection of the affected tooth, cracked teeth, or the breaking down of filling material used to seal the tooth. The risks of any of these issues developing will depend on the reason behind the root canal in the first place and how well the patient maintains oral health after the procedure is finished. Sometimes the extent of damage inside a tooth cannot be fully examined until the procedure is begun. In these cases, root canal problems may not be avoidable.
A root canal is a procedure in which a dentist removes infected or rotted tissue from the teeth, gums, and nerves inside of a damaged tooth. This damage can be caused by poor oral health and cavities and sometimes from excessive dental procedures. When the tooth is damaged, bacteria can develop and lead to abscesses and other infections. These infections must be removed during the root canal to alleviate pain and prevent it from spreading to the surrounding tissues.
One of the most common root canal problems is a secondary infection to the tooth which has been worked on, or on one nearby. The entire procedure cannot typically be done all at once. First, the infected areas must be removed, and then once the tooth and surrounding gums have healed, a sealant is put in place. Infections can occur between these two portions and this may prolong healing time and result in multiple procedures.
Another of the most commonly occurring root canal problems involves the sealant which is put in place. Occasionally this sealant can fall out of the tooth. This not only makes the tooth susceptible to further infection or damage, but it also increases expenses for the patient since the sealant has to replaced. Avoiding chewing with the afflicted tooth for several days following the procedure may help, although sometimes there is nothing one can do to prevent this from occurring.
Occasionally a tooth will be more damaged than the dentist anticipates. This can lead to additional root canal problems. If too much of the tooth is affected by infection, it may crumble, chip, or break. Infection is sometimes widespread, so additional teeth will need to be repaired. Sometimes the entire tooth may need to be removed altogether.
Patients can prevent damage from occurring by brushing regularly and visiting a dentist for regular checkups. It is also important to seek medical advice at the first sign of infection. Symptoms of an infected tooth or abscess can include pain, swelling, redness, and the presence of pus.
My dentist was going to pull my tooth, since it was really too decayed to save. It was the very back molar. He started looking at the X-rays though, and said there was something there he didn't like, and recommended a root canal.
I agreed and when he got in there, he found that molar had *three* roots on it, rather than the customary two. He said taking it out would have involved oral surgery, and he didn't want to put me through that. The third root didn't show up well on the X-ray, but he said he just had a feeling "something" was in there.
Because the tooth had three roots, it made extra work and took longer. I had to keep my mouth open for about two hours. That was really the worst part.
When I had a root canal, I had everything done at once. The dentist put on a temporary crown until the permanent one was ready.
My worst fear was a dry socket. My mother had a root canal years ago and she got one. She was absolutely miserable. I certainly didn't want that to happen! I took my antibiotics like I was supposed to and didn't have any problems, thank goodness, but I really did try to do -- and *not* do -- what my dentist told me to do or not do. It's not an experience I care to repeat, but overall, I know it could have been much, much worse.
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