At Iqaluit Dental Clinic, we know that a root canal is quite a common and predictable dental procedure. It’s especially easy when you’re getting it done by highly experienced endodontists at the best clinics. However, even this common dental procedure comes with a few side effects and risks. Let’s check them out. 

The Side Effects

1. Changes in colour – While the calcium and enamel part of the teeth isn’t alive, the dental pulp inside your teeth is. When that becomes infected, it needs to be removed with root canal therapy. While this protects your tooth from extraction, your teeth become essentially dead after this process. Root canal therapy stops the spread of infection and prevents extraction of the tooth. 

The pulp inside your tooth has blood vessels, connective tissue and nerves and when that gets removed, your teeth may suffer from discolouration. It’s important to note that this side effect isn’t very common and is experienced by very few patients. It happens when the dead roots of the pulp start showing through the dentin. However, there’s an easy fix. It can be aesthetically treated with veneers or crowns. That’s why most dentists would recommend you for getting a dental crown after your root canal therapy.

2. Sinus congestion – Everything in your body is interconnected and your teeth are no different. That’s why it’s no wonder that sinus problems are very common after root canal therapy. In certain cases, the liquid inside your jaw may slightly leak through the membranes in your nose. That’s because your sinus cavity and root canal are adjacent to each other. While this isn’t life-threatening in any way, your sinus cavities may get inflamed due to the leak.

When that happens, you’ll experience irritation, headaches, congestion in your sinus cavities and more such symptoms. However, sinus problems may be caused by other reasons as well. To make sure that your sinus issues are a result of the root canal procedure, you need to check for a consistent salty flavour in your mouth. The good thing about this side effect is that it goes away within a few weeks. Otherwise, you need to visit your doctor about nasal slime solutions or antibiotics.    

3. Cracked tooth – As mentioned above, after root canal therapy, the affected tooth is essentially dead. The dental pulp in your tooth is responsible for providing nutrition to the dentin and responsible for the sensation in your tooth along with its defence. When that part is removed, your tooth can’t be nourished by the pulp anymore and isn’t as strong or good at fighting cavities either. Your tooth runs a high risk of becoming brittle after a root canal procedure. That’s another reason why dentists recommend crowns after a root canal procedure. It strengthens the outer area of the tooth and keeps it shielded.

4. Reinfection – Any kind of surgical procedure comes with varying risks of reinfection and a root canal isn’t any different. While reinfection isn’t very common after root canal therapy, you do face a minor risk. If you’re getting root canal therapy at a reputable clinic, your endodontist would go through several steps to minimize or eliminate the risk. Reinfection risks are high when the treatment is done incorrectly at any stage. That’s why your dentist would make sure to clean and disinfect the empty root canals before using fillers.

If you don’t get the procedure done by a specialist endodontist at a reputable facility with a high success rate, the risks increase since some of the passageways may get overlooked. However, the most common cause of reinfection is seal failure. After the root canal procedure, your endodontist needs to reseal the access hole carefully without any gaps or cracks that may allow bacteria to make their way through. Erosion of the seal is also possible. That’s why permanent fillings or crowns are usually used to completely close the external part of your tooth and deny entry to pathogens.

5. Numbness and allergy to anaesthesia – A very large number of patients also experience the surrounding nerves around the affected tooth being disrupted after a root canal procedure. This can lead to numbness, face swelling, and a sore feeling. That’s why most people feel pain after the anaesthesia and sedatives wear off. However, this isn’t dangerous in any way and should go away within a few weeks. Apart from that, some people are also allergic to anaesthesia. If that’s the case, you need to inform your dentist before you opt for the process. Otherwise, there may be severe complications during the procedure or after it.

6. Unequalled roots or canals – Root canal therapy also comes with the rare side effect of unequalled roots or canals. While it isn’t talked about, it is a severe condition where few of your canals don’t have any roots and that disturbs the surrounding teeth along with the neighbouring tissues. This usually happens due to minor negligence and can lead to several problems in the future.

7. Alternatives to a root canal – While the risks and side effects of root canal therapy exist, they shouldn’t pose a problem if you’re getting it done by a specialist endodontist at a good clinic. If you still want to avoid this procedure, there are a few alternatives. The options include direct pulp capping, pulpotomy, and tooth extraction. With direct pulp capping, minimally exposed, healthy, and non-infected dental pulp can be sealed off.

With a pulpotomy, the pulp is removed while preserving the tooth nerve and root canals with a material added inside the tooth for promoting healing and preventing bacterial infection. Tooth extraction is the end-of-the-line procedure where the dental pulp along with the entire tooth is removed from your jaw. You can replace the extracted tooth with a dental bridge or implant.             


At Iqaluit Dental Clinic, we suggest that you make yourself aware of the side effects and risks of root canals before opting for them. With negligence from the dentist or a poor dental facility, even this procedure can become risky. That’s why it’s important to get a root canal done at a reputable facility with a high success rate.