The Causes of Root Canal Infections By Dr. John Goodman on March 17, 2024

Person showing the start of a dental abscess, which may be a sign of a root canal infection

Our dental care team in Kansas City, MO, can diagnose and treat root canal infections during routine exams and spur-of-the-moment visits to our office. Patients are glad we can halt the spread of infection to other parts of the body.

There’s one question we get a lot from patients who’ve been told they need endodontic treatment: What causes a root canal infection?

Let’s take a moment to consider some of the basic facts about root canal infections that many people do not know. This will help you get a sense of why root canal infections are a problem and what you can do to prevent them from happening.

What Is a Root Canal Infection?

A root canal infection is when bacteria enters the inner pulp chamber of a tooth. Many people don’t realize that there is soft tissue inside of each tooth that is more vulnerable to infection. When this happens, the inflammation can be painful.

Left untreated, the infection can spread to the gums and lead to the formation of an abscess. Other serious health issues may follow.

Why Do I Have a Root Canal Infection?

The most common causes of a root canal infection are tooth decay as well as chips or cracks in teeth.

Essentially, any compromises in tooth structure that allow bacteria to access the dental pulp can lead to a root canal infection. These issues are often the result of poor oral hygiene, trauma to the mouth, and could even be linked to severe gum disease.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of a Root Canal Infection?

The most common warning signs of a root canal infection include:

  • Heightened tooth sensitivity
  • Persistent toothache
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Browning or darkening of a tooth
  • Swelling around a tooth
  • An abscess forming near a tooth
  • A weird/unpleasant taste in the mouth

If you notice any of the above, be sure to contact our Kansas City dental office as soon as possible.

Can Root Canal Infections Be Avoided?


The best way to avoid a root canal infection is to schedule regular dental checkups, cleanings, and routine dentist visits. This allows us to monitor the health of your teeth and gums and to catch early signs of a root canal infection as soon as possible.

We also recommend practicing good oral hygiene at home and wearing face or mouth protection during sports when it’s practical to do so.

What Treatments Are Available for a Root Canal Infection?

The ideal treatment for root canal infections is endodontic therapy. This involves the removal of the infected dental pulp, the sterilization of the pulp chamber, filling the chamber, and capping the tooth with a strong restoration.

We can go over the treatment process as well as your recovery after root canal treatment in more detail during a consultation.

Speak With a Dentist About Your Oral Health Concerns

If you are worried you have a root canal infection, contact our dental office in Kansas City, MO. We’ll put those fears at ease and walk you through your treatment options.

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John P. Goodman, DDS

John P. Goodman, DDS We Give Kansas City a Reason to Smile!

Dr. John Goodman has more than two decades of experience serving the community of Kansas City, MO. He offers a comprehensive range of services to address all types of dental problems, and he accepts CareCredit® financing to make treatment as accessible as possible. 

To request a consultation, please fill out our online form or call us at (816) 842-8585.

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