On very rare occasions, additional treatments are necessary due to complications with the initial root canal procedure. We like to make sure our patients are well educated on possible complications which can arise, so they can be identified as soon as possible to prevent any unnecessary health issues.

Here are 4 rare but possible complications that can occur after root canals:


Although it is not common to get an infection after a root canal treatment, it is a possibility. Infections can result from bacteria entering the tooth and soft tissue during the treatment, a slight perforation to the soft tissue of the tooth and/or inadequate initial root canal therapy.

If infection is suspected or observed your endodontist should prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection. Signs of infection include pain, fever, swelling, abscess and/or pus. If you experience any of these symptoms after the root canal treatment you should contact your endodontist immediately.

In the case where an infection has spread or is untreatable with common antibiotics, it may be necessary to re-treat the tooth or simply drain the swollen area to encourage blood flow into the infection. Apical surgery may be necessary if the root canal treated tooth shows signs of reinfection and the anatomy of the roots is too complicated to resolve with traditional endodontic therapy.

Teeth breaking when a crown is not placed in a timely manner

After the decay that caused the need for a root canal is removed, it is important to have a crown placed on the tooth to help keep it strong and healthy. If a crown is not placed in a timely manner it is possible that the tooth could crack, break, become brittle, or reinfected requiring additional dental treatments or complete removal of the tooth.

Root fracture

The root of the tooth can be fractured as a result of decay or pre-existing cracks too small to see. If a root fracture were to occur, you and your endodontist would need to discuss options for treating the tooth or even removing the tooth.


The material used to fill the root canal could move outside of the perimeter of its intended placement. If this were to happen, there is the chance it would cause inflammation in nearby nerves and cause numbness. It is also possible that during the process of getting you numb, the nerve was bumped or punctured, or bruising occurred near the nerve. If you experience numbness a day or so after a root canal treatment, you should contact your endodontist immediately.

If you live in the Richmond, Virginia area and have questions about root canalsroot canal re-treatments or apical surgery, please do not hesitate to contact us at 804-559-3636.


About the Author

Dr. Harris has been a practicing dentist since 2005. In 2012, he received his Master’s of Science in Dentistry and a certificate in Endodontics. He founded East Coast Endodontics shortly after receiving his master’s degree. He also currently holds a part-time position as a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Endodontics department at Virginia Commonwealth University. View his full bio.