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Some of the most common root canal side effects include pain or discomfort, stopped tooth growth, and the eventual discoloring and weakening of the tooth. Although some of these side effects require additional dental work, typically they are harmless and rarely ever indicative of root canal problems. Other side effects, though, can mean there were root canal complications. These side effects include severe pain, infection, and a cracked tooth. A dentist might be able to reverse these complications, or the patient might need surgery to save the tooth.
Probably the most common of root canal side effects is the mild to moderate discomfort or pain a patient can experience both during and after the procedure. Many patients describe the pain they experience while getting a root canal as being similar to the kind of pain common with getting a regular tooth filling. Since patients tend to experience a certain amount of tissue inflammation after getting a root canal, many will continue to experience this pain for the few days following the root canal. This is especially true if they already had pain or an infection before the procedure. Dentists usually recommend managing the pain with over-the-counter pain medication until it fades.
Additional common and non-threatening side effects of a root canal can include oral and facial numbness or a tingling sensation. This is due to the anesthetic used to prevent the patient from feeling pain during the procedure, and will wear off a few hours after leaving the dentist’s office. If the patient is a child but the tooth is a permanent one, the tooth might stop growing for good. Some patients develop small sores or blisters on the gum near the tooth due to the bacteria that was previously in the infected tooth and pulp, but these should go away after a few days. Patients can also expect a certain level of tooth discoloration and weakness, though these root canal side effects might not manifest for years following the procedure.
There are more serious side effects that might be indicative of root canal complications. These include severe pain that doesn’t respond to OTC pain medication or fade over a few days, a crack in the tooth, or any other kind of painful or “off” feeling the patient might have related to the tooth that doesn’t go away. Any patient who experiences these kinds of side effects should see his dentist as soon as possible, because they could be symptoms of certain root canal problems such as a root canal infection. Some root canal problems can be fixed and the tooth can be saved by a second root canal or by endodontic surgery. If the problems are severe enough, the dentist might need to extract the tooth.
If the patient takes proper care of his tooth, it can last the rest of his life. Still, some root canal side effects, like tooth weakening and discoloration, require the dentist and patient to think about future dental work. For example, applying a permanent filling to the tooth can help keep it safe for a long while. Fitting a crown over the tooth can help the tooth last even longer, possibly forever, as well as hide the discoloration. Depending on the situation, these are considerations the patient and dentist might immediately discuss or might save for a later date.