I had a root canal performed over a year and a half ago, and my endodontist said there were C-shaped roots and that she was hoping it worked. She gave me the standard antibiotic regimen and told me to follow up with my regular dentist. I followed her directions, and when I had my routine cleaning 6 weeks later, I mentioned to the hygienist that I was still dealing with some pain. They took an x-ray, but since my dentist wasn’t there that day, they said they would have him take a look and give me a call.
My dentist never called back, so I thought that meant everything was fine, but when I went back for the next routine cleaning, I told them that I still had pain. They took an x-ray and said it showed there was an infection, and I was told to call my endodontist for a follow-up. It was a holiday, so my dentist prescribed penicillin pills and scheduled an appointment for me later in the month.
About one month later, I ended up having the tooth pulled by an oral-maxillofacial surgeon, and I have since had improvements. However, I do still have pain in my jaw directly under where the tooth was extracted. The tooth socket has healed, and several symptoms have improved, but I am still concerned there may still be an infection in the jaw bone.
My faith and trust in my dentist have been shaken, and the dentist that pulled the tooth never even scheduled a follow-up with me. Is it possible that I still have an infection in my jaw? In your opinion, how should I proceed with this? I greatly appreciate your time. Thank you.
-Rylee from Arizona
A failed root canal can often be fixed with re-treatment or root canal surgery. However, extraction is sometimes necessary, as you have experienced.
It’s too bad that your dentist wasn’t more on top of this, but I wouldn’t fault the oral surgeon for not scheduling a follow-up after what he or she probably saw as a routine extraction. It is rare for there to be a lingering infection in the bone after a simple extraction of a tooth because the open socket leaves a clear path for drainage, so your body has no trouble getting rid of the infection. Occasionally, you can get a post-operative infection if the tooth is fully impacted and the tissue is sutured closed over the extraction site. From what you have explained, it sounds like your jaw healed normally.
But the lingering pain is a concern, so I would have it checked out. There are some cases where an infection can linger after an infected tooth is removed. Such a situation would require a strong dose of antibiotics. I would recommend that you go back to the oral surgeon and get evaluated. If you do still have an infection, I would imagine your surgeon would stay clear of penicillin since you already were on that. If you do happen to have a lingering infection, it is probably penicillin-resistant. I would try a strong antibiotic like clindamycin or some other antibiotic that isn’t penicillin.
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