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Root Canals

Can a root canal be done with infection?

12/19/2007

Question:

My husband went to the dentist about a week ago. His was having pain and swelling to the right side of his face. He was prescribed penicillin and Tylenol with codeine. He finished his last antibiotic pill on Thursday. The following Saturday his right side started to swell again. We tried calling the dentist but never go a call back. By Monday, the swelling was so bad that his eye and nose were also swollen. He went to another dentist today and had a root canal done. She was going to drain the tooth but went ahead and did the root canal. She prescribed him a stronger prescription for penicillin and pain medicine. I had a root canal done before but had to return until the infection went away. I`ve always heard that a root canal can`t be done while there is an infection, is that true? Should we be concerned?

Answer:

It is not unusual for swelling to return if the cause of the swelling was not treated (i.e. bacteria and infection inside the tooth). Your husband would have continued to have swelling on again off again until a root canal or extraction was done.

You definitely can have a root canal done when there is an infection. In fact, that is often the reason people present for a root canal. Even after the root canal is done, it will take about a week for the swelling to go down again. You don't need to return to your dentist if your husband is getting better throughout the week.

If over the course of the week, your husband's symptoms do not resolve or worsen, then I would recommend re-evaluation or an evaluation by an endodontist. Obviously if any questions or concerns arise, feel free to follow up with your dentist.

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Response by:

Melissa McCartney Drum, DDS, MS Melissa McCartney Drum, DDS, MS
Assistant Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University