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Dentistry/Root Canal / jaw infection


I was having a pain in the outer gum between two teeth and went to see my then dentist several times who told me there was nothing wrong that she could see.  I was not having pain in these teeth although one was sensitive to hot and cold.

I asked for a second opinion and saw another dentist at the practice who said it appears I clench my jaw and grind my teeth while sleeping and this has caused fractures in the enamel of the tooth.  She advised a root canal to kill of the nerves and pain, followed by a crown to protect the tooth.

I underwent the procedure in two sittings, with the canals being cleaned and and disinfected the first sitting and the filled and crown being completed a week later.

The treatment appeared to be a sucess for a month or two, then I began to feel sensitivity in the tooth to hot and cold, and over the following day when biting.  A blister had appeared on the root of the tooth that was filled, which I believe is a draining fistula (apologies for the spelling.).  An x ray was completed and the dentist informed me the root canal was successful, but there was an infection in the jaw bone.  I was prescribed amoxicillin for 5 days (250mg 3 times a day)I finished the course yesterday morning, and have no pain in the tooth at the moment, although there is tenderness in the gum / jaw below the tooth still if I press it.  

The dentist advised me that she could redo the root canal, but it looks fine and therefore the prognosis would not be favourable, and extraction is the other option to completely remove the infection, although I do not see how this will remove the jaw infection as the jaw will still be there, and I am told the tooth is not the problem.

Any advise you can give would be greatly appreciated, thanks

Hi Rhian,

I'm sorry all this is going on. Without being able to exam you and see your X-rays, it's hard for me to help here, but hopefully I can give you some general comments that will help.

The fact that you have some hot & cold sensitivity tells me you are dealing with another tooth. When a root canal is done, whether well or poorly, it will no longer feel temperature sensations since there is no nerve in the tooth to conduct the sensations to the end of the tooth.

There are a number of reasons root canals can fail...extra roots, not properly cleaned out, or not properly filled are the main ones. If there is evidence of infection in your jaw and a draining fistula, there are only 2 possible explanations....the root canal has failed or a 3rd tooth is involved, since an abscessed tooth (a dead nerve) can't feel the cold sensations either. It is NOT possible for a root canal to be successful and an infection develop in the jaw independent of the tooth.

I would suggest that you ask for a referral to an endodontist as things are not adding up here. I really can't help with the diagnosis like I explained above.

I hope this helps.

Gary Backlund DMD, MSD  


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Gary Backlund, DMD, MSD


I am an Endodontist ( root canal specialist ) and can answer questions about root canals and their treatment. I cannot diagnose or treat online, but can answer general questions. I have been a specialist for 25 years and am Past President of the Washington State Association of Endodontists.


25 years practicing as a specialist

American Association of Endodonists, Past President Washington State Association of Endodontists.

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