6 Signs of Root Canal Infection To Watch Out For

signs of root canal infection

In the United States alone, over 15 million root canals are done every year. The procedure is as common as it can get and helps patients have a bright and painless smile. But did you know that root canals can become infected in some cases?

If you’ve recently had a root canal procedure, it’s important to know all the signs of root canal infection so you know when to go to a doctor. While the infection itself is a very, very rare occurrence, let’s go through 6 signs of root canal infection in this blog.

What is a root canal?

Before we explain what a root canal is or what to expect in this procedure, let’s understand how a tooth is structured. 

Teeth are made up of many layers. The layer we see is called the enamel which makes up the hard, outer layer. But on the inside, there is a porous, sponge-like tissue called the dentin. There’s healthy blood flow in the dentin to keep the tooth alive and healthy.

A root canal procedure is when the dentist removes a damaged part of your dentin pulp to protect the rest of your teeth from further damage. Does root canal hurt? No, not really!

A picture of root canal

Why do you need a root canal?

Root canals are needed in many different cases, but the main reason is to replace and protect your damaged tooth. If you’ve cracked your tooth from injury, have a deep cavity, or had issues with your previous fillings, you might need a root canal. 

One of the ways you can tell you need this procedure is if you notice your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold sensations!

Can a root canal get infected?

Yes, root canals can become infected for more reasons than one. However, it’s very rare for an infection to occur. But what really causes root canal infections in the first place? 

Here are some reasons why this might happen:

  • Your root canal shape was complicated and the area of infection went undetected,
  • Your tooth wasn’t properly cleaned or disinfected during the procedure, 
  • There was a delay in the crown placement procedure, which gave bacteria time to develop again, or
  • There was a new cavity after the treatment or your new tooth became cracked or damaged.

6 Signs of infection after root canal

When it comes to what to do after root canal, the list of precautions can seem endless. However, one of the most important things to do is keep an eye out for root canal infection symptoms. 

If you feel a combination of the following symptoms, it might be wise to get a dentist appointment and make sure your root canal isn’t infected:

1. Pain

Like any other infection, toxic root canal symptoms start with obvious pain. Having mild discomfort is normal after you have your root canal procedure. Naturally, the pain should go away within a few days— at least for cases that don’t involve a root canal infection!

For example, you may experience some sensitivity when biting into solid foods or consuming cold items immediately after the procedure. 

Allow yourself a few days for any discomfort to diminish, and if you still experience any pain, it’s advisable to consult with a professional to address any potential concerns related to the root canal tooth.

A girl is facing pain due of the infection after root canal

2. Abscess

An abscess on your gums near the root canal is almost always an indicator of jaw infection and a failed root canal. Most of the time, the abscess will ooze pus or other fluids while being moderately painful, but it’s not always the case.

On the other hand, if you had an abscess before your procedure, make sure to keep an eye on it. So keep an eye out for the abscess going away within a week, which would mean good news for you! If not, don’t discredit it, and check in with your dentist!

3. Tooth discoloration

One of the tell-tale signs of infection after root canal is tooth discoloration. When the inner layer of your tooth becomes infected, it will start darkening to a yellow or brown color, especially as the infection reaches the pulp tissues. 

In other words, tooth discoloration or darkening is a sign that the tissues within are still dying, and the canal needs to be cleansed from the present bacteria. 

4. Chronic bad breath

Chronic bad breath is one of the lesser obvious signs of root canal infection. Make sure to thoroughly clean your teeth to ensure you’re not fostering any bacteria from bad hygiene practices. 

However, if you’re still noticing bad breath since your procedure along with a few other signs on this list, it might be time to get your dentist appointment.

5. Fatigue

Feeling like your bed is your best friend? Exhausted to the point you only want to relax in peace? We’ve been there too… but not after a successful root canal!

Yes, a root canal infection is a sign of an oral infection that’s transferring into your blood. These blood vessels are transporting the pathogens to the rest of your organs which can make your body slow down with fatigue.

6. Fever

Last but not least, fever is one of the main infected root canal symptoms you should keep an eye out for. Fever is your immune system’s way of defending itself against bad bacteria and infections. As the temperature rises, most bacteria are wiped out but obviously, having a fever isn’t all that fun for you either!

And so, if you’ve got a fever after your root canal, it’s time to put two and two together!

High fever due to root canal infection


Yes, an infected root canal heal if you take the right steps to heal it with medical intervention. Book a same-day emergency walk-in visit at Premier Dental clinics if you notice any of the signs of root canal infection immediately. 

There are many reasons why root canal pain can occur after surgery. Even after the dentist has removed the nerve-filled pulp, your tooth has many other nerves and sensitive tissues. When these nerves or tissues get irritated, swollen, or inflamed after the root canal surgery, you’re likely to feel uncomfortable pain.

While it’s not possible to naturally heal a root canal without medical intervention, there’s a lot you can do on your own to deal with the infection! 

What you can do is opt for natural remedies for pain management if your dentist appointment is far into the future. Avoid eating processed sugars, carbs, or acidic foods, use a saltwater rinse multiple times, and use a cold compress to manage root canal infection pain.

Treat your oral health with a dentist who cares

Root canal treatment is an investment for your body and one of the best things you can do for your dental health. After all, who doesn’t like a bright smile with healthy teeth?!

It isn’t a scary procedure with many complications and most patients can return to their normal lifestyle within a few days. Plus, for a quick root canal recovery time, it’s essential that you follow all root canal after care practices! 

If you want guidance for tooth extraction and dental implants, Premiere Dental can help you in Philadelphia, Deptford, and Abington, PA. For more information, you can contact us or schedule your appointment. Or, you can book an emergency same-day walk-in appointment if you’re struggling with the signs of root canal infection!