Getting a root canal can be nerve-wracking (no pun intended). But for all the discomfort, there’s still the consolation of relief. And for the most part, that is the case. People who usually get root canal treatment already suffered a long ordeal of pain following an infected dental pulp. But sometimes, the opposite is true. Instead of feeling better after getting their dental pulp removed, some people might experience signs of infection post-root canal, like a fever. But is getting a fever after a root canal normal?
Fevers usually happen when there’s a bacterial infection of some sort. When bacteria, viruses, and other foreign bodies enter your body, your immune system releases chemicals that signal more white blood cells to fend off the invaders. The same chemicals—called pyrogens—also signals the brain to raise your body temperature. Specific strains of bacteria and viruses are sensitive to heat, so at a particular temperature, they begin to die off.
Typically, with the right dental care, you shouldn’t feel too much discomfort after the root canal treatment. When you get a fever after a root canal, that’s usually a sign that you might’ve contracted an infection. The question, however, is why you got an illness in the first place. Here’s what you need to know if you get a fever after root canal treatment.
The bacteria might’ve gotten into your bloodstream
If you toughened out your tooth pain for a while before getting a root canal treatment, there’s a high chance some of that bacteria already made it to your bloodstream. The dental pulp—which the bacteria infects—are, after all, a network of blood vessels and nerves. Left too long, and the blood vessels could carry the bodies into your bloodstream, where it can circulate into other parts of the body.
As with all infections, it might take some time before your fever clears up. Fortunately, once all of the infected tissue has been scraped out, it’ll be a lot easier for your body to fight off the infection. In the meantime, your dentist might prescribe some antibiotics you can take to help your body recover. It would help if you also kept up with your dental care to prevent further infection.
It might be an unrelated issue
The post hoc fallacy occurs when two events coincide. When this happens, people might assume that one event might have caused the other. While you might have gotten a fever after root canal treatment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the root canal was what caused it. However, it’s hard to tell on your own whether this is really the case.
To rule out whether the signs of infection after a root canal are caused by the root canal itself, you might need to get further medical advice from your dentist or doctor. The most significant sign that it’s an unrelated issue is if the area around your tooth canal looks and feels normal while you still have your fever.
You might have a post-operative infection
Your typical root canal treatment, as with all operations, has post-operative procedures that help prevent disease and speed up recovery. Sometimes things happen, however, and your tooth might become infected again. Maybe there was still some dental pulp leftover. Or perhaps your dentist didn’t place the crown soon enough. Regardless, if you start getting a fever after your root canal, and your tooth still hurts, it’s best to call your dentist.