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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Swollen area above an old root canal



A few years back I got a root canal on one of my immediate front teeth, I`d say approximately five to six years ago, and haven`t experienced any real trouble with it, pains, throbbing, re-occuring sensation etc. until recently. My high gums, almost directly underneath my nose, are moderately swollen above the tooth that`s had a root canal, and I`m experiencing an occasional throb (when the tooth is distrubed or when any pressure is applied to the area). When pressure is applied to the area it is tender, and very painful, more often than not resulting in even more throbbing. If the tooth is tapped it also feels fairly sensitive. My question is this: after several years without any discomfort or problems is it likely that the root of the tooth has become infected again? Or perhaps has become abcessed? I just recently got over being very ill the past week, and was also wondering if perhaps due to my illness the area could have become inflamed or troubled. If the former is the case, what kind of treatment is called for to save the tooth?


I cannot directly answer any of your questions. You need to have a clinical evaluation. Teeth that have been treated for root canals can become reinfected for a number of different reasons (caries, cracks/fractures, bacterial ingress, etc.) and the treatment of the tooth differs being dependent on the cause. Symptoms like the ones you are describing usually indicate that there is some sort of infection that needs to be addressed. I would recommend an evaluation by an endodontist.

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Response by:

Melissa McCartney Drum, DDS, MS Melissa McCartney Drum, DDS, MS
Assistant Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University