Root Canal Failure

I am in massive pain after two root canal treatments. The first one took place about three years ago. Then it started hurting again a bit over a week ago. I went back and he did another x-ray and discovered a new infection flare-up. He did a second root canal treatment and gave me penicillin. It started to feel a little better but then it began hurting again. I can’t get any relief and don’t know what to do. When I spoke with my dentist he said if it is still hurting in a couple more weeks, he’ll give me a different antibiotic. I don’t think I can do two more weeks of this. I am in too much pain.


Dear Patty,

woman grabbing her jaw in pain in need of an emergency dentist

I don’t like how your dentist is handling this and I’d like you to see an endodontist. When a root canal treatment fails, the chances of a successful re-treatment go down with each sequential re-treatment. The second one usually works about 50-75% of the time.

Penicillin isn’t a great choice for this type of infection, that is especially true after the first treatment failed. The antibiotic should have been showing improvement after a few days. Plus, when you started to feel better and then getting worse is a very bad sign. He should have switched your antibiotic right then.

Call an endodontist and tell them what is going on. They should treat it as a dental emergency. If they can’t get you in right away, they should at least prescribe a much stronger antibiotic. Hopefully, the tooth can still be saved. If it can’t, a tooth extraction will be necessary to keep the infection from spreading even further.

If that does happen, don’t wait too long to get the tooth replaced. The adjacent teeth will start to shift and tip into the empty space. If you are a good candidate, I’d recommend a dental implant as a top of the line replacement.

This blog is brought to you by Baton Rouge Dentist Dr. Steven Collins.