I went in for a root canal on Friday and was pretty numb that day. Yesterday it hurt, but I chalked that up to typical root canal pain. Today though I hurt so bad and now the side of my face is swollen. This can’t be normal. I tried to get a hold of my dentist, calling the emergency number because it’s Sunday, but the message I got was that the doctor will call me back within the next few hours. A few hours is too long for me. I can’t wait the few hours for a call and then have to wait longer to be seen or get relief. Is it okay to go to the emergency room for a dental emergency or will they not have someone who can help me?
Dan, Detroit area
That sounds miserable! I’m so sorry you are suffering so much. While it’s not uncommon to have some discomfort after a root canal, you were smart to try to get a hold of your dentist when you noticed the swelling in your face accompanying your pain. The success rate with root canal therapy is between 90 and 95 percent, but there are those that may need to be retreated or require additional surgery. This is not necessarily because your dentist did something wrong; root canals are just extremely complex.
If you feel you can’t tolerate the pain any longer, you can visit an emergency room. Most emergency departments have a dentist or an oral surgeon on call just for cases like yours where they can help with dental swelling, infection, etc. They don’t usually provide care such as what you would get at a regular checkup or treat broken or chipped teeth, but you will likely get antibiotics for your infection and at times, oral surgery if needed for swelling.
In some areas there are urgent care dental facilities where you can be seen by an emergency dentist and are sometimes cheaper than visiting an emergency room. This may be another option for you if you can’t wait to hear from your dentist.
We wish you well and hope for a speedy recovery!
You may be interested in learning more about emergency dentists.
This post is sponsored by Enfield dentist Dr. William Cummiskey at Generations Dental Care.