Will I Need Another Root Canal?

Hi. Will you please let me know if it sounds like I need another root canal? In 2017, a dentist completed a root canal on my upper left molar. The tooth started occasionally hurting in the spring, but it has hurt daily since August. Last week it got worse, so I took ibuprofen. Do I need to see a dentist within the next week or two, or can it wait? I am supposed to travel at the end of next week. I don’t want this to interfere with my travel plans, but I am concerned about what can happen if the treatment extends beyond my departure date. Thank you. Jessica from Toledo, OH


Thank you for your question. Although Dr. Lacy would need to examine and x-ray your tooth for an accurate diagnosis, we can explain what may be happening.

What Should You Do If You Feel Pain in a Root Canal Tooth?

If you feel pain in a root canal tooth, it is likely a symptom of root canal failure. Infection is usually the source of most toothaches, including a tooth that had root canal treatment. Only a dentist can confirm the status of your tooth with an exam and x-rays.

What Causes Root Canal Failure?

Root canal failure can occur if any infected tissue remains in a tooth. Your tooth may feel better at first, but the infection will linger. Channels in a tooth can be curvy or challenging to see, so a dentist may miss them or fail to clean them out thoroughly. Unless a dentist has advanced training and instruments for challenging cases, they may miss some of the infection. Most dentists refer challenging issues to an endodontist (root canal specialist).

How Is Root Canal Failure Treated?

A dentist or endodontist treats root canal failure with repeat root canal treatment. After taking an x-ray of the tooth, the dentist or endodontist can do the following:

  • Identify the area of infection
  • Use specialized tools to remove it
  • Sanitize the tooth
  • Fill it with a root canal filler material

A dentist will take impressions of the tooth to create a custom crown to protect it because root canal therapy weakens a tooth. Endodontists may perform root canal surgery (apicoectomy). An apicoectomy accesses the root tip through your bone and removes the infection.

Schedule an Appointment for an Exam

If you are concerned about the timing of treatment and whether you can complete it before traveling, seeing a specialist will help you get an accurate diagnosis. An endodontist’s skill and instruments will reduce the risk of needing a third root canal procedure. Search online for a board-certified endodontist and schedule an appointment soon.

This post is sponsored by Plano, Texas, female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy. Call her office to learn more about financial arrangements and how she makes dental care affordable.