Symptoms You Have an Infected Root Canal

Many people list a root canal as one of the worst things they can go through, even though the procedure can be relatively quick and painless because we use local anesthesia. While we always try to take care of the infection carefully and we consider a root canal a routine procedure, there are times the procedure fails.

A root canal is necessary when there is an infection in the inner layers of the tooth, usually the pulp, where the nerve center is located. This area is where the tooth gets all the nutrients it needs from the rest of the body.

Signs of a Failed Root Canal

It is essential to understand that root canal failure can happen years after the original procedure and sometimes it is hard to identify where the discomfort stems from. Here are some signs of a failed root canal.

  • * Pain. The most common symptom of a root canal failure is pain. Once the problem has been solved by a root canal, you should start to feel better shortly after the procedure is completed. If you experience increased pain or if the pain goes away and then returns days later, you could have a failed root canal.
  • * Swelling. Any swelling that takes place a few days after the procedure is a problem, and we need to see you immediately because it can be a sign of an infection. In general, there is little swelling following a root canal.
  • * Tenderness. If you feel tenderness when biting down on the affected area days after your root canal, it can mean an infection.
  • * Discharge. Anytime you have an unexplained discharge from a tooth that’s accompanied by pain, it could mean you have a tooth abscess, which can potentially be life-threatening if not treated promptly.


Whenever you have pain in one of your teeth, you should call us as soon as possible. If you have an infected root canal, you may need to be re-treated.