What are root canal infections?
Teeth aren’t solid all the way through — they’re made up of layers. The hard, outer surface of a tooth is called enamel. The inner layer is called dentin and is a porous, almost sponge-like tissue. At the center of each tooth is a collection of soft tissue called pulp.
The pulp contains the nerves and blood vessels that allow the tooth to grow. It’s full of cells called odontoblasts that keep the tooth healthy.
A root canal removes the pulp of a tooth that’s been infected or damaged by tooth decay or other injuries. Root canals can save teeth and are considered very safe.
Root canal infections aren’t common, but there’s a small chance of a tooth becoming infected even after a root canal is performed.
Signs that warrant a return trip to the dentist
Here are some common signs and symptoms of a root canal infection that mean you should schedule another visit to your dentist:
- Pain or discomfort ranging from mild tenderness to unbearable pain, especially when you apply pressure from eating or pressing on the tooth, or expose the tooth to extreme temperatures
- Pus discharge that’s greenish, yellowish, or otherwise discolored
- Red, warm, swollen tissue near the tooth, especially the gums under or around the tooth — in some cases, swelling can affect your face and neck, too
- Tenderness or discomfort in swollen tissue, especially when you touch or apply pressure to it
- A bad taste in your mouth or a bad smell to your breath from infected tissue