root canal problems

I had a root canal treatment for an infected tooth. After I finished treatment, my dentist gave me a prescription for penicillin. A week later I was still in pain. He wrote me a prescription for Vicodin and said if it still hurt after another week he’d give me a different antibiotic. I don’t think I can wait that long. Plus, the Vicodin makes me feel weird. What do you recommend?


Dear Barry,

man grabbing the side of his jaw in pain

Your dentist is missing the boat here. First, the antibiotic prescription. While penicillin can work, it wouldn’t be my first choice after a root canal treatment. Instead, I’d try a stronger antibiotic such as clindamycin.

Second, the amount of time he’s waiting to get you on the correct antibiotic is way too long. You should have been feeling better after a couple of days and he wants you to wait over two weeks! No.

There’s a good likelihood you still have a dental infection because something was missed here. You don’t want the infection to spread any more than it already has.

Where to Go From Here

I think you need to see a root canal specialist and have this re-treated. When you call the office, let them know what is going on so they can get you on the right antibiotic.

To give you realistic expectations here, a root canal re-treatment is usually successful only in 50-75% of the time.

If it turns out, the re-treatment doesn’t work, you may need to extract the tooth in order to get rid of the infection. If that happens, you’ll want to discuss your tooth replacement options with your dentist. If you want the top of the line replacement, then getting a dental implant is the best bet. Your next best option is a dental bridge. However, it does require crowning the two adjacent teeth.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.