Hi Dr. Hall,
So I had my root canal done a few years ago (3 or so) and just started hurting hard a week and a half ago. I saw a dentist on Tuesday last week, who saw infection on an x-ray and did root canal re-treatment and sent me home with Penicillin 500mg and Vicodin. Pain wasn’t going away after these meds so I was using 400mg ibuprofen too to get a minor relief until Saturday when I did get an hour or two no pain but everything still highly sensitive. And pain keeps coming back hard! Sleepless nights all this time!
Sunday to Tuesday it kept hurting. I feel pressure in my jaw and my tooth is kinda hurting, numb pain, constant feeling that I am trying to ignore most of the day. Not to mention headaches during the whole week and also earache Saturday thru Monday!
I saw the same dentist again to consult, and he said that some people have a longer recovery and since pain is less – it is going to be better. And if still hurts after two weeks, we can do another dose of antibiotics. I am still up at night (it’s the 9th night since he did re-treatment!!!) and taking 400mg ibuprofen and waiting for pain to stop!
I want to know is it really that my course of recovery is so long or is something else? Thanks much!!!
– Kate from New York
I think you should see a root canal specialist. This infection should be resolving by now if the penicillin were working. I have a couple of points for you.
When you have a root canal that fails, generally a root canal re-treatment will be successful somewhere between half the time and three quarters of the time. So there is a reasonable chance that this root canal re-treatment won’t be successful.
Also, penicillin would not generally be the first choice of antibiotic for a root canal infection, especially for a situation of root canal failure, so I question your dentist’s judgment on that. And I question his judgment further if he hasn’t offered to change the antibiotic when this has been going on for a week. Penicillin resistance of infections is very common. He should have switched you to clindamycin or another strong antibiotic when you had gone a few days and weren’t seeing any significant improvement.
Also, if I am understanding what you are saying, the pain did get better but then got worse again. That’s a particularly bad sign. Clearly this isn’t working.
Ask him for a referral to a root canal specialist (endodontist), and if you get any delays, find one on your own.
– Dr. Hall
Response from Kate:
Thanks so much! I didn’t have anyone to tell me that this is not normal or that meds he gave don’t work. I really knew that something is wrong and all he said was to wait for 14 days! horrible.
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