What Are The Symptoms Of A Root Canal Infection?

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When dental pain arises, knowing what type of treatment might be needed can be difficult. A wide variety of signs and symptoms can indicate that you might need a dentist to evaluate for tooth decay, tooth sensitivity, fractured root, or the need for root canal therapy. An experienced dentist like Dr. Perrone can quickly identify the signs and symptoms of a root canal infection.

A root canal infection occurs when the inner parts of the tooth are exposed to food and bacteria. The canal of the tooth roots contains blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. When these tissues are affected, you will feel pain and discomfort.

Root Canal Infection Symptoms

  • Teeth Pain 

Infected root canals typically result in acute pain since the interior of the tooth is exposed. Therefore, when there is inflammation, the pain will be more intense and must be treated promptly.

Even though tooth pain is a glaring indication of a root canal infection, it does not always mean you need root canal therapy. Sometimes the tooth that needs root canal treatment might not even be hurting. You may be experiencing referred pain.

Tooth pain can also be caused by bruxism, periodontal disease, dentin exposure, tooth decay, and tooth fracture. A thorough examination is needed to diagnose the pain adequately and to determine which tooth may be the culprit.

  • Gum Sensitivity and Swelling

Gum inflammation, tooth sensitivity, and even pain are common symptoms of a root canal infection. However, these symptoms show up in different ways. Sometimes, your gums can look normal, but you will notice they are tender. Other times, you will see a huge lump on your gums.

When the swelling lasts for an extended period or is very pronounced, you should seek dental care immediately.

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  • Bad Breath, Pus, or Dental Abscess

You will have bad breath when there is an oral infection present. When bacteria enter the deeper parts of the tooth including the canals, they continuously emit a terrible odor.

You can also experience a sour or bad taste in the mouth. This is usually due to the presence of pus. Pus-filled pockets below the gumline are a clear indication of an oral infection. The infection has already spread when there is pus formation. This is also known as a dental abscess.

A dental abscess can be a life-threatening situation, and immediate care is required.

  • Tooth Discoloration

If you notice a tooth that has developed a dark yellow, gray, or blue tone, then there is a high probability that the tooth’s root canals are infected. This tooth will have limited blood flow since the blood vessels have been affected.

Tooth discoloration is an indication that there has been a change in the health of the nerves. As the infection spreads, the nerve weakens and will eventually die.

  • Can an Old Root Canal Cause an Infection?

Yes, there is always the probability of getting an infection over time. This can arise for several reasons, such as an old dental restoration breaking down. Sometimes, a bad dental restoration or a poorly fitting filling can cause bacteria to enter your root canal, leading to an infection.

Another reason regular dentist visits are so crucial to oral health.

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Root Canal Infection Treatment Options

This consists of cleaning out the diseased and infected root canals and placing a man-made filling inside to prevent further infection. While root canals are a highly successful treatment, they can fail over time.

  • Endodontic Retreatment

Endodontic retreatment is essentially a re-do of the root canal treatment. It is performed it to save a tooth with a previous root canal treatment. The original filling material will be removed, and the root canal will be re-cleaned and resealed. 

  • Endodontic Surgery

Sometimes, Dr. Perrone may recommend undergoing endodontic surgery as an alternative to root canal retreatment. The surgery is performed to remove the infected tissue; in some cases, the tip of the root will also be removed.

  • Tooth Extraction

When retreatment and root canal surgery are unsuccessful, removing the tooth will be the only viable option.


Root canal treatment is a relatively simple dental procedure; the recovery process is generally without complication. However, do not hesitate to call your dentist if you have any problems or concerns following a root canal.

If you are ready for a smile makeover, contact Marielaina Perrone, DDS, at (702) 458-2929 to schedule a no-cost cosmetic consultation appointment. We cannot wait to help you with your smile makeover to create the smile of your dreams in Henderson, Summerlin, and Las Vegas, NV.

Author Bio

Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDS

Marielaina Perrone DDS Family And Cosmetic Dentist

Marielaina Perrone, DDS, is a highly experienced and dedicated dental professional passionate about delivering exceptional patient care. With over 20 years of experience in the dental industry, Dr. Perrone is widely regarded as a leading authority in her field, with a reputation for providing innovative solutions and personalized care to her patients.