Abscess Below the Root Canal Tooth

Is There An Abscess Below My Root Canal Tooth?

A root canal treatment is often a necessary process to save a tooth that has suffered extensive decay or infection. However, sometimes complications can arise, leading to the development of an abscess beneath the treated tooth. An abscess is caused by bacterial infection, and it can be quite painful and dangerous if left untreated. It is necessary to dictate the signs, symptoms, causes, and treatment options for an abscess under the root canal tooth to maintain oral health.

Understanding Root Canal Treatment

A root canal is a dental procedure designed to remove infected or damaged pulp from inside a tooth. This pulp contains nerves and blood vessels, and when it becomes infected, it can cause severe pain and swelling. During a root canal, the dentist cleans out the infected pulp, disinfects the inner chamber of the tooth, and fills it with a biocompatible material. The tooth is then sealed and usually capped with a crown for protection.

Causes of Abscess Formation After Root Canal

Despite the success and effectiveness of most root canal treatments in eliminating infection and preserving natural teeth, there are instances where complications can arise post-treatment. One significant complication is the formation of an abscess, a painful and potentially dangerous condition. Understanding the underlying causes of abscess formation after a root canal can help in identifying issues early and seeking timely intervention to prevent further complications. Several factors contribute to the development of an abscess under the root canal-treated tooth, each presenting unique challenges in dental care:

  • Residual Infection: Sometimes, not all bacteria are removed during the root canal procedure, leading to a persistent infection.
  • Reinfection: Bacteria can re-enter the tooth through cracks or failed seals in the crown or filling.
  • Incomplete Cleaning: Complex tooth anatomy can make it difficult to thoroughly clean and disinfect all the root canals.
  • Fractures: A crack in the tooth or root can allow bacteria to infiltrate and cause an infection.

Symptoms of an Abscess Under a Root Canal Tooth

Identifying an abscess early is crucial to prevent serious complications and ensure timely treatment. Recognising the warning signs can help in addressing the infection before it spreads or causes further damage. If you suspect an abscess under the root canal tooth, be vigilant for the following symptoms:

  • Severe Toothache: Persistent, throbbing pain that can radiate to the jaw, neck, or ear.
  • Sensitivity: The sensitivity increases due to hot or cold temperatures and pain while biting or chewing.
  • Swelling: Swelling in the gums, face, or neck.
  • Fever: Elevated body temperature indicating infection.
  • Bad Taste or Smell: A foul taste or smell in the mouth due to pus drainage.
  • Gum Pimples: Pimple-like bumps on the gums that can release pus.


To diagnose an abscess, a dentist will typically:

  • Examine Symptoms: Assess the patient’s symptoms and medical history.
  • Perform X-rays: X-rays can reveal the presence of an abscess and the extent of infection.
  • Conduct a Physical Examination: Check for signs of swelling, gum inflammation, and other physical indicators.

Treatment Options

Treating an abscess under a root canal tooth is necessary to prevent the spread of infection and to reduce pain. Prompt and effective treatment can help save the tooth and prevent further complications. The following treatment options are commonly used to address this condition. Those treatment options include:

  • Antibiotics: Prescribed to control bacterial infection.
  • Drainage: The abscess may need to be drained to remove pus.
  • Re-root Canal Therapy: A repeat root canal may be necessary to thoroughly clean and disinfect the tooth.
  • Surgery: In many cases, surgical intervention such as an apicoectomy (removal of the tip of the root) might be required.
  • Tooth Extraction: If the tooth is too damaged to be saved, then extraction might be the only option.


While not all abscesses can be prevented, taking these steps can reduce the risk:

  • Good Oral Hygiene: Brushing and flossing in daily basis help to prevent the infection.
  • Regular Dental Visits: Routine check-ups allow for early detection of potential issues.
  • Protective Measures: Using a mouthguard during sports and avoiding hard foods can prevent tooth fractures.

In conclusion, an abscess under the root canal tooth is a serious dental condition that needs proper attention. Recognising the signs and symptoms is a crucial step towards seeking appropriate treatment. While root canal treatments are generally effective, understanding the potential for complications and the importance of follow-up care is crucial for maintaining oral health. If you suspect an abscess, consult your dentist urgently to prevent further complications and receive proper treatment. With timely intervention and good dental practices, the risk of abscess formation can be significantly minimised to maintain a healthy mouth.