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Root Canals

Can root canal affect other teeth

09/17/2008

Question:

I had a root canal last week on tooth #19. I am still experiencing discomfort but the endodontist said that this is normal because of the amount of digging that was done. My question is, I am experiencing discomfort in a tooth on the upper row that already has a crown and had a root canal 3 years ago but that wasn`t hurting before this root canal. Can having a root canal on one tooth irritate or cause another tooth to have pain? I really don`t want to have to go back for this because I still have to get the crown put on tooth #19 and that will take several more visits.

Answer:

I hope that by now you are feeling much better and that the pain from your upper tooth is gone as well. I can not tell you exactly what is happening because I have not examined you. However, there are a couple of possibilities for your situation.

It is possible that your upper tooth could be having problems because there is something wrong that needs to be addressed. Another possibility is that when you are having pain in a bottom tooth (especially lower molars like you are) that pain can feel like it is coming from an upper tooth because the nerves that go to and around both of these teeth originate from the same area. This is only true if the upper tooth is above the tooth you had the root canal. If the upper tooth is on the other side, it could also be sore because of the different way that you are biting on it if you are compensating for the sore lower tooth on the other side.

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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