Dear Dr. Hall:
Exactly three weeks ago I got my 2nd endodotic treatment (root canal). The first session seemed to go well, but the endodontist had me come back for a second appointment because he suspected a fourth canal. After much digging and discomfort he did find a fourth canal on molar #14. The endo also found a crack while doing the treatment. I had pain and swelling for several days following the procedure. Now, I don’t feel the swelling, but I do feel intermittent dull pain more like in the jaw area of the tooth. Sometimes I feel a dull ache radiating to my ear. Sometimes it’s just a dull headache similar to when you have sinus pressure. I am due to go get the tooth crowned but have postponed one week to see if this goes away.
I am taking ibuprofen every 6-8 hours. Is this normal and should I give it more time to heal? Or, is this the signs of something worse happening? I know he did dig for a long time to find the fourth canal. I am only eating soft foods like mashed potatoes for fear that the tooth gets further damaged. I am so frustrated because I have been suffering with problems with this tooth for 5 months now, and no one can give me a straight answer. Last Friday, I also got an x-ray taken of the tooth, but the general dentist saw nothing out of the oridinary. That’s when he recommended I take ibuprofen and postpone the crown for a week.
Thank you for any recommendation you may have.
Cyndi from Florida
That was good advice from your dentist to wait before doing the crown, but not good to wait just a week. It can take a month or more to be able to tell if this tooth is going to “make it.”
Root canal treatment can be somewhat chancy in some cases. With this tricky fourth canal and the crack the endodontist saw, the treatment may indeed not be successful.
In dental school, they made us wait 6 months before putting a crown on a tooth that had a root canal treatment. In practice I didn’t wait that long, as long as I felt confident of the result, but the point is that it can take a while for the problems to show up. If the tooth is infected, it won’t show on the x-ray until the infection has settled in, and even then, the signs on the x-ray may be subtle and beyond the diagnositic abilities of your dentist.
Before going ahead with the crown, I would ask for a green light from the endodontist. I would ask the endodontist to follow-up, either by you personally visiting his office or having your dentist send him a copy of the x-ray to evaluate.
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