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Root Canals

Abscess After Root Canal

06/19/2009

Question:

A week and 1/2 after having the first part of a root canal performed because of severe pain (root removed, cleaned of minor infection and then sealed) I began to experience pressure and severe pain in the gum above the treated tooth. My gum, cheek and the same side of my face swelled. My dentist put me on antibiotics, pain relievers and examed the tooth in his office a couple of days later. By that time, the swelling had reached my neck, my glands were very swollen and painful and the swelling was right under my eye also. My dentist said that the swelling in my neck was my glands doing their work. They are very sore! We made an appointment to have the tooth opened, cleaned and resealed for next Tuesday (today is Thursday). My dentist said he wanted the antibiotics to do their work. Today some of the swelling went down and I can feel a large blister on my gumline above the treated tooth and the one behind it. Can that wait five days to be opened and drained without causing me severe, unnecessary pain? At the time of the appointment, he asked me if I had felt a bump, but at that time, I didn`t feel the blister. I`m scared. I`m a very anxious person to begin with. All this swelling and unrelenting pain is really getting to me. My dentist has been providing me with free dental services since I lost my insurance last month. I don`t want to keep calling him for no good reason. Please let me know if you think the blister can wait five days.

Thank you for any help and/or reassurance you can give me.

Answer:

I can not speak directly to your situation since I have not evaluated you. However, usually when swelling starts to go down and you get a "blister" in your mouth, that is the infection finding a pathway for release. You can usually pop the blister (like a pimple) and you will see some pus-like material drain from it.

In relation to waiting for your appointment, there is no need to be seen sooner as long as your symptoms are reducing (swelling going down, no fever, etc.). True dental emergencies are related to significant swelling/fever that is not improving. 

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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