Is Swelling After a Root Canal Normal or a Dental Emergency?

I had a dental emergency a few weeks ago. My whole face swelled up overnight. I got put on antibiotics, but it took them a while to work and although I took the next appointment, I just had the root canal yesterday. This morning, my face is somewhat swollen again. I don’t understand. Is it normal to have some swelling after a root canal or do I have another dental emergency on my hands? I thought we fixed the problem, so if it is an emergency, why did it happen?


Dear Vince,

Infected teeth can make you feel like you’ve just gone nine rounds in the ring. They can leave you with pain, swelling, black eyes and worse. Sometimes when the infection has had time to advance, even after aggressive antibiotic treatment and a root canal, the bacteria lingers, causing the area to flare up again.

Yes, this is a dental emergency. The swelling indicates that your body still has an infection that it is having trouble fighting. There’s likely no issue with the root canal that was done. The cause of the infection has been treated- it’s just a matter of killing off the infection that still remains. If your body can’t fight it on its own, the infection is sure to grow and spread.

Contact the dentist who performed your root canal. He’ll likely want to get you started on another round of antibiotics as soon as possible and may also want you to follow up in-office to make sure everything is healing well. You’ll be floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee (instead of looking and feeling like you’ve been stung), within a few days of getting back on antibiotics. Just make sure you complete the whole course and report any lingering symptoms to your dentist to avoid winding up with another emergency.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Sirin.

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