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What Can I Do for an Infection If a Root Canal Failed?

I had a root canal two years ago on my left upper molar. The tooth has been making my breath smell terrible for the past month. It also leaks pus. I think there is some swelling in the jawbone because when I woke up this morning, my cheek was puffy. I put off seeing a dentist because of anxiety. This morning, I started feeling dizzy. I’m terrified. The worst part is that I decided not to return to the dentist who did the root canal because he wasn’t careful. Although he used a local anesthetic, I could feel him digging through my tooth roots. I feel stuck. I was scheduled to get braces in June, and these complications are probably delaying my start date. Is there something I can do at home to control the infection, or am I forced to find a new dentist? Miguel from Chicago


Although Lim would need to examine and x-ray a tooth for accurate diagnosis, it sounds like your root canal failed.

You need to see an endodontist—or root canal specialist. If you have dental insurance that requires you to be referred by your general dentist, you can call the office and ask for a referral. If you are uncomfortable with that, ask trusted friends or family members for a referral to another dentist for an exam and referral.

Why Would Root Canal Treatment Fail?

Root canal treatment may fail due to lingering infection in the tooth. If a dentist does not clear the infection, it will progress, swell in your bone, produce toxins in your bloodstream, and affect your body. When an infection from a hole in the bone leaks in your mouth, you’ll have a nasty taste that can cause bad breath.

What Is the Treatment for Root Canal Failure?

After examining your tooth and taking digital x-rays, an endodontist may decide that treatment for root canal failure is a repeat root canal. You may need root canal surgery, such as an apicoectomy, to access the tooth through the gums and root tip. Although some general dentists perform advanced root canal treatment procedures, they usually refer patients to an endodontist.

When Can You Get Braces After a Failed Root Canal?

A conscientious dentist will not begin your orthodontic treatment until your oral health is stable and infection free. Schedule an appointment right away if you need a second-opinion dentist before you see an endodontist. There is nothing you can do at home to stop the infection.


Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso, Oklahoma dentist, sponsors this post.


Will I Need a New Veneer or a Crown After Filling a Cavity?

If the tooth behind a porcelain veneer has a cavity, must a dentist replace the veneer with a new veneer or a crown? During my six-month exam last week, my dentist found a cavity in my right incisor. I’ve had my veneers since 2018, so I am concerned that replacing one is overtreatment because they are somewhat new. Thanks. Viviana from Detroit


Dr. Lim would need to x-ray and examine your teeth and veneers for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options. But we will provide some guidelines.

Does a Cavity Require Replacing a Porcelain Veneer?

A single porcelain veneer is held in a dental instrument to show that porcelain veneers are barely the thickness of a fingernail.Whether a cavity behind a porcelain veneer requires replacing the veneer depends on the size of the cavity. Many cosmetic dentists consider ways to save the tooth by building it up with composite so that you can keep your veneer. If your dentist cannot save enough healthy tooth structure to bond a veneer onto your tooth, they may recommend a crown.

Matching a New Crown or Veneer with Surrounding Teeth

Whether you need a new crown or a veneer, it takes advanced cosmetic training and skill for a dentist to match your new restoration with the existing ones. Family dentists have limited skill and artistic inclination to understand how to instruct a dental ceramist to create a veneer or crown that perfectly matches the others and your surrounding teeth.

Schedule a Porcelain Veneers Second Opinion

We recommend scheduling a second opinion with one or two cosmetic dentists to examine your porcelain veneer tooth and x-rays. You can compare each dentist’s recommendations for removing your cavity and whether your veneer must be replaced. After your consultations, you can decide whether you want your dentist to complete the work or prefer another dentist to do it. Regardless of which dentist you choose, they should be concerned enough to determine why you developed a cavity behind a porcelain veneer.

Avoid letting a cavity linger untreated because the decay will spread and require more extensive and costly treatment.

Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso, Oklahoma cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.



My Dental Implants and Crowns are Falling Apart

My full-mouth reconstruction is falling apart. The implants and crowns are no good. Within three years, I lost two veneers and three crowns. Both implant crowns are loose, and my gums bleed when I floss. I switched back to the soft food diet I had when I first got the implants because it hurts to chew. I spent almost $50,000 on a botched makeover. The dentist who did the work filed for bankruptcy and moved to another state. Where do I begin to undo the damage? – Thank you. Alec


We are sorry to hear about your terrible experience that seems to have left your mouth in worse condition than before the dental work. We can advise you regarding selecting a provider and what to watch for with treatment.

Selecting a Full-Mouth Reconstruction Dentist

Before selecting a dentist for full-mouth reconstruction, look for at least two dentists with advanced implant placement and restoration training from a reputable organization. Do not settle for cheap implants. Lower costs may mean that the provider takes shortcuts or uses inferior materials to save money. Although you do not need to find the most expensive dentist, avoid choosing the cheapest. Advanced training in implant dentistry is essential for a dentist to give you reliable results.

Ask About Diagnostic Planning

Dental implant crown, abutment, and root form
Look for a dentist with advanced implant training

A dentist who places implants with precision takes a 3-D CT scan to reveal your oral anatomy and bone structure. Without proper planning, you may lack enough bone volume to anchor implants, or a dentist may place your implant incorrectly.

Check Online Reviews

Check Google, Yelp, and Facebook reviews for patients’ comments about dental implants, crowns, and veneers. You can also ask friends, family members, and acquaintances for references. It may help to check the website of your State Board of Dental Examiners and look for recent disciplinary actions to ensure the dentists you are considering are not on the list.

Schedule Consultations

After identifying two dentists with advanced implant training, schedule consultations, bring a list of questions, take notes, and compare treatment options. Avoid rushing the decision, and do not hesitate to switch dentists.

Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso, Oklahoma dentist, sponsors this post.