Understanding A Few Root Canal Complications

17 May 2017
 Categories: Dentist, Articles

If you have recently heard from your dentist that one of your teeth needs a root canal, then you may shudder at the thought of receiving the treatment. However, root canals are routine and over in about an hour. While this is true, there are some complications that can occur. This can be said of almost any sort of medical or dental treatment, but you should be well aware of the complications before your dentist starts drilling into your tooth.

Bone Infection

One of the most common complications during root canal treatment is the continuing of the infection inside your tooth. Most teeth are extremely difficult to completely clean out. Many people have teeth with very narrow root openings. While the openings are large enough for capillaries and dental nerves, they are too small for a dental file to fit into. If a file is forced into the root opening to clear out the tooth, the file can break off. If the file does not break, then the very tip of the tooth may crack. The tooth itself may need to be pulled due to this sort of damage. 

To prevent serious consequences and the possibility of the tooth needing an extraction, your dentist will be conservative with root cleaning. This is one reason why your dentist may choose to medicate your tooth before filling it in. Some teeth have such small holes that the medicine may not work its way all the way down into the root opening. 

If the roots are not fully cleaned, medicine does not reach into the tip of the root, and bacteria are left in the tooth, then the tooth infection can continue. When this happens, the tooth itself will be filled and capped, so the infection will travel underneath the tooth and into the bone. 

Bone infections do require the perfect storm of conditions to develop. Fortunately, the issue can be resolved with surgery. Specifically, your dentist will surgically remove the root tip and any other infected tissues that remain in the mouth. Strong antibiotics can then be taken to resolve the issue and the tooth and jaw can both be saved in the process.

Phantom Pain

If you have ever heard the term "phantom limb pain," then you may know that the body sometimes sends strong pain signals to the brain even when a structure no longer exists to create the pain in the first place. This issue develops due to the neural pathways that still exist, but that do not detect pain, pressure, or temperature sensations from the given appendage. 

A similar issue can develop when the nerve is severed and then removed from a tooth. Your mouth will still hold the same neural pathways that allow sensations to be sent to the brain. Sometimes the lack of information from the tooth and the previous trauma from the region will result in pain sensations in the area, even though a nerve no longer exists. Phantom tooth pain can also be caused by nearby nerves, since some teeth share specific pathways to the brain.

If you feel pain sensations coming from the root canalled tooth, then your dentist will likely complete a thorough examination to make sure that a bone, gum, or nearby tooth infection is not present. When these things are ruled out, then the phantom pain condition may be detected. Your dentist may then instruct you to take NSAID pain relievers to control the discomfort. Sometimes the pain will go away on its own.

If the discomfort remains, then your dental professional may inject a nerve blocking solution into your mouth to stop sensations in the region of your treated tooth. Also, certain desensitizing gels and toothpastes can be provided. 

For more information contact your local dentist.