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You’re in good company if you just got a root canal. 15 million people have the procedure done in the US every year. Even though many people are afraid of getting root canals, the procedure is very safe and effective.

Still, there is a possibility that an infection may occur after the procedure has been done. This is called a root canal infection.

If you’re concerned about getting a root canal infection, we at Grace Dental Group want to help. Our provider, Woo Young Lee, DDS, not only wants to emphasize the effectiveness and safety of getting a root canal but also the importance of knowing the signs of a rare post-procedure infection, so you can know what to do under any circumstance.

Root canals and their aftercare

A root canal is a procedure that involves removing the infected pulp inside a tooth that has dealt with damage or decay. This procedure is performed because it’s a great way to save your natural tooth. Therefore, it’s safer and more cost-effective than having a tooth extracted and an artificial device — like an implant — put in its place.

After you’ve gotten your root canal, you’ll likely experience some discomfort. This is normal and not a surefire sign of infection. You may need to take medications to manage the pain, and getting enough rest is also crucial.

When you finish your procedure, your mouth will likely be numb for a few hours. It’s important to avoid eating during this time, as you don’t want to bite your cheek. You must also take care of your tooth by flossing and brushing like you normally would. In most cases, taking care of a tooth post-root canal is similar to normal dental care.

5 signs of a root canal infection

Unfortunately, some people do experience an infection after their procedure, whether from improper aftercare or because the procedure didn’t remove all the infected pulp. It’s extremely important to look for these five signs in order to determine if you need to make an appointment with your dentist right away.

1. Severe pain

As previously stated, it’s common to experience some pain after a root canal. However, it isn’t normal if you experience severe pain, especially pain that lasts longer than a few days. Other telltale signs are pain that occurs when you expose your tooth to certain temperatures or if you press on the tooth when eating.

2. Swelling

Swelling isn’t a common side effect of a root canal. It probably means there is an infection brewing post-procedure. You might notice swelling on the gum line around the tooth, but severe swelling can spread to the face and neck. This is a strong sign that you need to reach out to your dentist immediately.

3. Pus

Discharge or pus leaking from the site of the root canal is a severe sign of infection. It could be yellow, green, brown (from blood), or discolored tint. Whatever it looks like, discharge is a sign something’s wrong.

4. Bad taste

Your mouth will taste bad if an infection has taken hold or is still there from before your root canal. If you notice that you consistently have a bad taste in your mouth, especially if the area around your tooth tastes bad on your tongue, don’t waste time and make an appointment immediately!

5. Bad smell

Bad breath is another telltale sign of infection. You might have noticed it before, and it could have even been the reason you came in to see your dentist in the first place. When your breath constantly smells bad, it may mean something is wrong, so make sure you rule out a root canal infection.

Root canals can help

These procedures are highly effective for ridding a tooth of infected pulp, but sometimes, further issues occur. This is why it’s vital to be aware of the signs of infection post-procedure and to get help when you need it.

We’re happy to discuss our root canal options and help you in an emergency. Contact us at (415) 921-8867 or book an appointment on our website to visit our San Francisco, CA office.

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