Sinus Drainage & Pain After a Root Canal Procedure

Shortly after I returned home from from the dentist, I leaned over and had a sudden gush of watery substance drain from my left nostril. It smelled just like the sodium hypochloride that the dentist used to flush my roots. Is it possible to drill through the root into the sinus cavity?

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Sinus drainage and pain after a root canal procedure

Root Canal Question: I had a root canal last Monday. Shortly after I returned home from the dentist, I leaned over and had a sudden gush of watery substance drain from my left nostril. It smelled just like the sodium hypochlorite that the dentist used to flush my roots. The drainage continued several times that evening. The following day, nearly 24 hours later, I was bending over and moving boxes and it happened again, this time yellow. The drainage amounted to about a teaspoon. I had no pain or swelling.Toward the end of my root canal procedure on Monday, I had sudden moderate pain that traveled from my jaw up to my temple. The temple pain lasted for about an hour.

The root canal was on my left upper jaw, I believe it was #13. Nasal drainage was left side only and temple pain was left side.

When I discussed this with my dentist, he seemed very puzzled and said that the drainage would not be related to the root canal procedure and it may be just a coincidence or a possible allergic reaction. He said there is no way to drill into the sinus cavity.

Is it possible to drill through the root into the sinus cavity?

Answer: I’m sorry you are going through this issue. I hate to disagree with your dentist, but I do believe that the drainage is connected with the root canal procedure you had recently.

The smell and taste of sodium hypochlorite that you describe is unmistakable, and cannot be synthesized by your body. It is from the lavage of sodium hypochlorite that your dentist rightly used to disinfect your root canal before sealing it. It is possible to drill into the sinus, but that is a catastrophic and unlikely event following a root canal and is usually related to surgical extraction of upper molars.

In this case, the roots of tooth thirteen are already very close to the floor of the sinus cavity, and after a tooth infection (abscess), or with age, there may be direct access into the sinus cavity via the root canal (inside canals of the tooth). Small amounts of the proper concentration of sodium hypochlorite should not cause any permanent damage despite being inadvertently injected into the sinus. However, it is possible to develop acute, sudden, severe facial pain and swelling that would require a trip to the emergency room with possible surgery requiring general anesthesia. This is called acute chemical sinusitis and is a very serious matter.

I would have immediately recommended sinus saline lavage with a Netti pot, a course of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, decongestants, time for drainage, and careful monitoring of symptoms. Then, at a later date, careful completion of the root canal (without flushing with sodium hypochlorite). The communication between tooth and sinus will eventually heal. In this case, since the dentist did not acknowledge the possibility of this communication, I would recommend that you see a root canal specialist (endodontist) to complete this root canal. You may also want to find a new general dentist.

Good luck and let me know what happens.

Mark Burhenne DDS

Read Next: Know Before You Go: Root Canals

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  1. Deanna Toncray says:

    I had nearly the exact thing happen when my dentist perforated my sinus while performing a root canal on tooth #13. I called my dentist the following morning after I had liquid shoot out one nostril a couple times when I bent over. She prescribed an antibiotic. After three or four weeks the pain in my sinuses went away, but I continue to have what I would call a narrowing or pressure, especially in the upper part of my nose and under one eye. I have also had face twitching on the injured side, but that has subsided. I still do not have my sense of taste back after almost three months. Are these symptoms all typical of this type injury, and are any of the symptoms expected to be permanent?

    • These symptoms, although severe, are plausible after a root canal that is over instrumented. As you unfortunately experienced, these sypmtoms can last for quite a while, but they can even be permanent. What I don’t understand is the loss of taste. This does not make sense with an upper root canal. I’d recommend a visit to an ENT specialist (ear nose and throat). You may even have to consult with a neurologist. I’d do this right away. Your symptoms are extreme for the given sistuation. Good luck!

      Mark Burhenne DDS

      • Hi Dr. B,

        Above, in response to Lori, you suggest taking a decongestant, and allowing time for drainage. Can those happen simultaneously? What, other than holding the head low, can be done to encourage drainage? Seems like it would be important to get all the liquid out, right?

        • I had a jaw tooth removed. Upper right side, very last tooth in the back. The root was up in my sinus cavity. He choose to pull it. Told me he could do a root canel, but in his experience of 25 years, they didn’t work with my cavity location etc and he usually had to go back and pull the tooth out anyway… I was so glad he was honest about it. So I told him do what u feel is best and jerk the sucker out. Now, my root was obviously in my sinus cavity a good long way. And I felt the water she sprayed etc go up into my cavity. She also sealed another tooth with this stuff that smelled like acrylic nails. Strong smell! It also got up my noise. Later that night I had bent over and the fluid ran out my nose and it’s all I could smell. I knew what it was as he had warned me. He already put me on antibiotics and has me using a Nettie pot for this very reason. Person who asked the original question sounds exactly what happened to me. I was told this may happen because I did have a hole there because tooth was pulled and it was up in my sinus cavity with a extremely long root. So, I’d say he broke through your sinus cavity. I say this, not as anyone who understands dentistry in any way, but as someone who’s tooth extraction evolved my sinus cavity.a hole, and was warned about what I might experience. . I will say, for the first time ever, my right side of my sinus cavity no longer feels stuffed up. And when I blow my nose, nothing feels stuck! Yay! I had this done weds at 2pm. It is now Friday 6:25pm. And today I’ve had nothing but typical drainage from my nose. So.. since my dentist thought to put me on the same med’s as the dentist here suggested, I’d diffinitly seek out another dentist and do like the dentist suggested on here. Good luck to u!

  2. My left upper molar (14 I think) had a root canal 12 years ago and last week became badly infected with a ‘pimple’ appearing on my gum, which the dentist identified as a sinus draining from this inecfted molar.
    Yesterday (15 Sept 2010) he was performing a drainage of this root canal to re-do the root canal and when he flushed the septic root canals with “Miltons solution” I felt the liquid travel up my sinus to the back of my nose and then down the back of my throat. The liquid felt quite caustic and I brought it to the attention of my dentist who lifted the dam and squirted what I think was water down my mouth which relieved the irritation. He then finished the treatment and has left temporary dressings in the root canal. I am on antibiotics.
    This morning the left side of my cheek is swollen and very sore, I feel quite unwell but don’t think I have a temperature. What really concerns me is that my sinus was clearly accessed during the procedure. My dentist agreed that the liquid must have come up through the sinus.
    I am concerned about complications from this and wonder how long my cheek will remain swollen and sore. I am also thinking I would prefer now to see an endodontist to complete the procedure.

  3. Anne Steele says:

    I had a similar experience yesterday. Tooth 14 (upper left) had the root canal. When I got home, lots of drainage with discolored (brownish) mucus. Then, if I turned to sleep on my right side, I could feel fluid moving around in my left sinus. This morning the discolored discharge/drainage was gone, but again when tipping far to the right, there was drainage into my nose and it ran out – basically clear, but discolored (like the water when ice melts after you’ve had a cola – a bit brownish). I’m scheduled to go back in this afternoon to have him look at it.

  4. Georgia Ishmael says:

    Five weeks ago I had oral surgery. I was told that I had a large infected leason in my gum around a tooth that had a root canal 5 years ago. They did a bone graft and cleaned it out. I am still having puss comming from this surgery spot is this normal?

  5. I had a root canal done left upper tooth on third visit dentist perforated the side of tooth and drilled into the bone. three days later pain was bad then had the tooth extracted.Since then left sinus blocked and have been told I need turbinate surgery. still pain in jaw, temple, behind eye, left side of face feels numb, loss of taste, and smell. has been going on 70 days approx. please help

    • Hey. I had a root canal on tooth 13 and have had left side of face almost constant tingling, numbness and the tooth still hurts it hurt after filling and crown and now after rootcanal. A day or 2 after these problems started. My sinus on the left has been crazy acting. Lots of bleeding. Couldnt breathe for a few days on left nostril. And at night it would cuase me to wake up feeling like i was soffocating even my body felt like it was tingly like i actually wasnt getting air in enough.A pinprick feeling in the sinus above the tooth.ears feel clogged randomly and pressure everywhere in my head. Behind eyes ect. But the worst is the facial tingling and numbness. It’s random I think and it’s impossible to ignore. Very stressful. I’m scared to get it pulled because of the symptoms getting worse. But maybe that will fix. Dentist said I have no infection in 2 xrays. Sinus looked clear. So if you find the cuase of your distress do tell. I can’t figure it out.

  6. I have the same issue as the original poster in this thread. I had an abscessed #15 which required a lengthy root canal by my dentist. Two weeks later, #14 also needed a root canal, this was done by an Endodontist. A few hours after the root canal on #14, I had yellow/brown thin watery fluid pour out of my nose (same side as the root canals) when I leaned forward. This continued off and on next several days and I found your site. I printed this article and took it to the Endodontist. She said the idea of the rinsing agent in the sinus cavity is IMPOSSIBLE. I pointed out #15 was abscessed which may have made an opening. She was 100% sure the nasal drainage was not from the root canal. I have no sinus issues and no allergies, and no cold symptoms. I have an appt. next week with an ENT. Can I have the fluid from my nose tested to prove it is related to the root canal? Why in the face of the evidence are dentists reluctant to admit what has happened. If 3 hours after a root canal thin watery fluid pours out of your nose, and you had NO previous symptoms, where do they think this has come from? I just want answers, not to blame anyone.

    • Ask the Dentist says:

      @ Elsie: I’m sorry you are experiencing this. It’s potentially very dangerous. The fact that she stated that the idea of the rinsing agent in the sinus cavity is “impossible” is frightening.

      You need to find another endodontist immediately. She has no business saying this to you. The professionl literature refers to this situation continually. If you like I can send you studies on the subject matter. I apologize on behalf of the profession that this misinformation has been presented to you.

      In hindsight, perhaps, it sounds like the wrong tooth was treated. Maybe #14 was the tooth that needed to be treated to begin with. Find a new dentist and endodontist immediately. The life of your teeth will depend on it.

      Mark Burhenne DDS

      • Dear Dr. B. Thank you for your reply and offer of the articles. I would love to see them. I was able to find abstracts about similar cases (although most involved swelling/pain which I did not have) but I could not access the actual articles. The ENT confirmed that the liquid from my nose had to be from the irrigating agent and is forwarding his findings to the endodontist.

        Regarding the possibility of the wrong tooth treated I think #15 had major issues that overshadowed the smaller problem with #14.

        I still have some sensitivity on #14 when I press it with my finger, but it has only been 2 weeks and I am hoping that is normal. Nothing about what happened to seems to have been “normal.”

        Thank you for sending the articles.

  7. i am having reoccuring pain in my jaw, ear, gums, and neck due to sinus drainage. the only solution to stopping it is when i take benadryl with a ibp 800 twice a day. this pain actually paralyzes me from any movement. PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!

  8. Lori Testa says:

    Hello there! I have had a terrible smell in my nose (imagine a poopy diaper strapped to your nose 24/7) since Feb 2011. I have had every medical test known to man and all is well. I had one tooth that did not respond to cold (but had no pain) and did not show anything on the XRAyY so went to the dentist and and we did a root canal even though they were not convinced anything was wrong, they understood how miserable I was. EUREKA…the minute they got in there, the smell intensified I about died. The tooth (#4) was cracked, with an air “pocket/bubble” or whatever and pulp was neucrotic. My endodontist did the root canal and did a great job. I was sitting there the whole time just thinking how wonderful it was going to be to not have to smell that stench anymore. But afterwards he told me, that it could take “awhile” for my brain to adjust so to be patient. I had the root canal on Friday, 4/29 and am still have some smell and taste issues and am now freaking out. All the food and drink I try tastes “off”. Are my brain neurons working tirelessly to fix this? Are am I dreaming and this tooth was really not the problem? Help, really, my quality of life is practically a ZERO with this stench! Thank you!

  9. Lori Testa says:

    Oh, just to clarify, I have already ruled out all sinus issues, had sinus CT, head CT, Brain MRI, had neuro consult, seen ENT. I am going back to the ENT one more time and also going back to Neuro one more time just in case because I don’t know what else to do. Also asked for a gastro referral to rule that out. Thanks!

  10. Stacee Conaughty says:

    Thanks for sharing such valuable information not found anywhere eles. I need some advice about tooth decay and possible extraction. 1 week ago I noticed that a small part of my 1st bi cuspid tooth (upper) had chipped away. I went to see my dentist who took a couple of xrays. She told me that I had calcification of my root canal therefore I needed the tooth removed as root canal was not an option. I don?t have any pain at all therefore this seems a bit extreme. I really don?t want the tooth removed if it is not necessary and would really appreciate some advice.

  11. Ada Ortiz says:

    Hello there! On Friday, I had a root canal performed on #14 by an Endodontist. It lasted about 45min-1hr. The doctor said he wasn’t expecting for the molar to have 4 canals. The 4th canal was difficult to clean out, as he thought it was blocked by calcium deposits. I left office in a very drowsy state, I believe because of the anesthesia (I am very sensitive to medication). Three days later (today Monday) I have facial pain, jaw pain, pain on my palate and gums. But what is worse is that I have lost my sense to taste. Is this temporary, what do I do?
    Thank you,

  12. Hi there, today I had a root canal on my molar #13. During which my Dentist drilled into my sinus cavity. He basically flushed the canal with bleach not knowing he had drilled through which made my face start burning up and my sinus feel very full and smell bleached out. All day today I’ve been blowing my nose and my nose has been dripping a clear brownish fluid. He gave me antibiotics and didn’t finish the procedure told me to come back in 5 days to finish it. I started reading online if this has happened to other people and basically read a bunch of horror stories…about having sinus infections for the rest of your life. Does it happen to everyone…I’m only 18 I don’t want to have sinus infections forever. What can I do to prevent anything bad from happening. Thank You.

  13. Hi,
    I am 4 months pregnant and have been in severe pain for a little over a week now. It started out with me having bad pain in my left upper jaw which made my whole left side of my face hurt. I went into dental emergencies since it was a weekend, they did. Othing and told me they couldnt locate the problem to a certain tooth.
    A day later i went back. The pain seemed to be coming from my upper molar, #14 . They took xrays and said i have an infection in the root. So they started a root canal right thwn and said that would at least ease the pain.
    After they were working on it for almost 3 hrs, i went home. I began to get more andmore swelling i. My left cheek that wqs ha and hurt badly. I went back to the dentist the next day and they told me it is normal and to keep taking tylenol.
    Two days later the pain was no better and neither was the swelling. My cheek was bruised by that time.
    So i went back to the dentist after talking to my ob/gyn and they said i need antibiotics. So i had the dentist prescribe them.
    The next day they also prescribed me tylenol 3 since the pain is not getting any better.
    It. Is now my 4th day of taking penicilli. And the pain has yet to get better.
    The swelling i. My cheek has went down but there is still a hard and swollen area i. My cheek. And it is kind of whiter looking than the rest of my cheek.

    Since today ive had popping sounds in my left nostril/sinus area, and am now having a really bad smell in that side of ym nose.
    Is itpossible that there is an infection still in my cheek and it has travelled to my sinus?
    I dont know what to doandi am extremely worried that this will affect my baby.
    The doctors here are acti g like. It is no big deal.

  14. I have had X-Rays. Bacteria found in gum of upper molar – older root canal. DDS removed filling, cleaned canals, capped. In so doing, DDS entered the sinus cavity. The cleaning agent of course entered the sinus cavity. Nose bled for a few days, from bright murkish blood to light blood color. If I blew my nose, it came out my nose and my mouth. I had the permanent filling accomplished,before the final surgery, to secure the root canal tooth. DDS then performed gum surgery above same tooth and downsized the canals, recapped and sutured gum. Any nose sprays came out of my gum and into my mouth. Salt water washes went into the sinus cavity and out of my nose – Murkish blood. Many antibiotics and salt water rinses, sprays later, the DDS referred me to oral & maxillofacial surgery DDS. Tooth is loose and must be extracted! Once tooth is extracted, this will leave the sinus cavity exposed. Will the hole to my sinus cavity close and leave my sinus cavity free of infection? Does anyone have any holistic meds that will help clotting and healing?

  15. I had a root canal approximately 2.5 years ago upper lt. side not sure which number. Ever sense I have been experiencing periods of stuffiness, in my lt. nostril. As well, I have had clear drainage, sinus pressure, pressure lt. eye but worst of all are the temporal headaches. I have just visited an ENT and next is the neurologist. I feel like the ENT looked at me like I was crazy and that only thing he could say was “interesting”. I am reading all the posts but can someone tell me where to find help? I am considering pulling the tooth as my neck is now beginning to hurt and I am tired of the headaches. Will pulling the tooth fix the problem?

    • Just found your posting today. I’m having the same symptoms for about three years now. I’ve had appointments with most every specialist imaginable regarding the pain i experience in the upper left area of my face/ head. I’m so frustrated. Had root canal left upper tooth and ever since, severe pressure at left eye, left cheek, temporal to ear area, with numbness and tingling across the cheek to nostril and lip. Can you please tell me how you made out with your situation full of similiar symptoms?

  16. I have had right upper #14 extracted, root canal in #13, left upper #14 extracted in the last 3 months, the root canal in upper right #13 is now a tiny nub of a tooth, the dentist used a composite filling, and this Mother F’er hurts randomly, I have gone back to the dentist several times complaining of pain, he did a bite adjustment, sanding it down here and there, and of course clipped a lower molar and chipped away an old filling (yet another problem). Dentist claims I can not feel anything in #13 since there is no nerve (well I do) and let me leave in pain. Said there is nothing he can do for me, really? how is this acceptable? after reading the posts above I can clearly see how and why people experience the pain and problems they encounter.
    I live with constant jaw, tooth, temporal, neck pain, I had a brief hiatus after the last extraction of two weeks of relief, then the temp outside dropped to 30’s and 40’s and now I am feeling sharp, extreme pain daily.

  17. I have just had a root canal at a new surgery and went back a week later as had a terrible smell and pain all round my jaw ears going down neck and what was like leaking from the temp filling was giving off the smell. I knew it was infection. I went back a wk after treatment and said look i think i have an infection with all this. He said no this is normal. I knew from the past the this terrible taste and smell with my last dentist is infection. I phoned out of hours surgery at a new dentist he said thats not normal you have infection. I went first thing in the morning i had to have the tooth taken out and a course of strong antibiotics. If any of you are not right you should change your dentist. all the best.

  18. These root canals are nasty business despite appearing to be routine. Google a Dr. Price and root canals and see the havoc wrought by this procedure. Numerous health issues are associated with this procedure. I have suffered from horrible sinuses due to a root canal done years ago and retreated. If it weren’t a front tooth I would have it extracted.

  19. Well i am 13 and i just had a root canal and i am having the same problems i told my parents and they said i would be fine, considering what you said above i am now scared and worried 🙁

  20. I had a root canal on tooth #10 at Endodontist he was almost done and all of a sudden I had an excruciating “sharp stabbing” pain. It was so bad I had tears uncontrolible. He removed plastic guard and kept asking if it was better yet and NO he had give me several shots of novicane for it to subside. Then He closed it up and said to take ibuprofen as soon as I could and pick up antibotic. The swelling and discoloration was there within 30 min. By the next day my whole left side of face was huge and bruised. And it just kept swelling. My Dentist told Me to sleep sitting up for a few days with ice. That possibly the Endodontist overstimulated the canal or hit an abscess. It has been 3 weeks now and area is still slightly swollen by my sinus when I touch my face it feels bruised sore. The tooth has no pain it’s by side of my nose. I really want it to get better! And wish I knew more of what was wrong. Any ideas what went wrong? The pain was sp sharp and intense lasted a few hours of really bad pain.

  21. I had a root canal on #3 yesterday. A few hours after the procedure I was bending over and brown-tinged fluid poured out. There was a funny smell and the leaking but no pain. During the procedure yesterday I was numbed up really well. I had no problems throughout the procedure until the technician started putting that chemical stuff in the canal. I got an immediate painful (excruciating) burning pain. I was crying up controllable and they had someone else come in and numb the mess out of me until I didn’t feel anything anymore. Afterwards, she commented that she couldn’t get one of the canals to stop bleeding. She was there for awhile, then called the doctor in to see it. She said everything was ok bc the bleeding slowed down. He looked and said it was fine. Since the initial “leak” of fluid, I’ve been having it randomly and i smell a strong funny smell (chemical-like), and I’m draining that fluid in the back of my throat. I’m taking amoxicillin (I’ve had 2 doses so far).
    When I talked to the dentist, he alluded to the fact that it might be related to the procedure, but said it could be bc of the antibiotic or allergies. I do not have allergies, and I hadn’t taken any antibiotic before the first leak. It started at 9 I had my antibiotic dose at 12. Is this going to be a long term problem? I literally have tissue stuffed up my nose bc it leaks randomly, copious amounts. When should I be worried???

  22. I had a root canal 3 days ago and since then I have had heart palpitations and fluttering. I have been awakened the last 2 nights with them. The Endodontist
    gave me a different freezing agent as the first one at the first appointment
    sent my heart racing.

    I have auto-immune problems and have sensitivities to chemicals, food
    additives etc.

    Could I still be reacting to the freezing agent, or could this be a reaction to
    the fillers in the canals perhaps, something is very off. I have also developed
    a rash on my chest and tingling in my hands and feet.

    Please advise how I should proceed with my concerns, and would the Endodontist
    have heard of such an odd reaction to something that should have been a normal

    • geraldine mclaughlin says:


      Did you find out what caused all of this? I have had similar problems and have since had the tooth extracted but some of the symptoms are still there. Like you, I have sensitivities to chemicals, etc.

      Hope you managed to get to the bottom of it?


  23. Hi Dr. B,

    I’m in Thailand and had a root canal done yesterday, on the back upper left molar. My problem is similar to those posted here, but as I’m out of the country and have some questions that haven’t been asked yet, I’m hoping to get some advise from a trusted source.

    At the end of the procedure, as the dentist was cleaning the last canal, pain started. Nothing extreme, but it worsened quickly as the novocaine wore off. I’ve taken anti-inflammatories since. (19 hours have passed)

    The procedure was in the morning. In the early evening I leaned over and had brownish liquid drip out of my left nostril. Quite a bit came out when I blew my nose, and then subsided. It’s come and gone since, along with a feeling a fullness and tenderness in the left sinuses and the liquid dripping down my throat. There’s mild pain in the tooth (again, I’m taking a NSAID), seemingly along with the one in front of it, which is a root canal from years ago.

    I’ll speak with the endodontist in the morning, but have a few questions I hope you can weigh in on:

    – Is a course of antibiotics definitely indicated, or is that case by case? Should I wait to see if this clears up in another day or two?

    – I don’t have a Netti Pot, or know if they’re readily available here. I do have a squeeze bottle of “normal saline solution.” I tried to use it like a Netti Pot but it didn’t go through. Left side was pretty well blocked, but I’m not practiced in this either. Is it still beneficial just to squirt it up there and then tip head down to let it drain?

    – They’ve scheduled me to begin crown prep with the insertion of a post exactly 3 days after the surgery. Is that too soon? Does it depend on whether I’m still having problems?

    – I’ve read some about complications from the use of Sargenti Paste. If that was used, should I have anything done about it, or better to leave it alone now? Also, unless he left it there from before, the endodontist used amalgam. (I don’t think to ask about that anymore!) Is it advisable to ask to have that replaced, or again, should I leave it alone?

    – Finally, if a wait-and-see approach is recommended and I continue to have these mild symptoms, at what point would panic be advisable? 🙂

    Thanks so much for you help!

    • Same thing happened to me just this past friday. Brownish fluid poured out my nose after the root canal. Literally, I got up off the dentists’ chair and leaned over and the brown fluid gushed out my nose. It’s day 5 now and the it’s the same amount of fluid but now it’s the color yellow. It’s feels like I have a very bad cold on one side of my face. A sort of numb feeling between the top of my nose and sinus. My temple aches and a the stuff drains into my throat when I stand or lay down….but when I lean forward, the fluid gushes out my left nostril. This is a nightmare.

  24. Amie scott says:

    I went to the dentist to get a filling when she gave me a needle and hit a facial nerve. Now my whole left side of my face is swollen and my left sinuses are blocked and my left eye is watering. I have been taking Advil for a anti inflammatory but nothing is helping… I feel like I got to sneeze but it always goes away. I called the dentist the next day and he said sorry u will just have to wait it out… Is there anything more I can do!?

    • That’s an inoiuegns way of thinking about it.

  25. Sharon Carlton says:

    Am currently going through the sudden rushes of fluid from left nostril mentioned above following a failed attempt of a root canal procedure. My dentist attempted for the second time yesterday to clean out my root canal but it was too narrow and he ended up drilling through the canal wall. The pain was briefly excruciating but No pain since. He put me on antibiotics and i am due to go back in a few days to have the tooth extracted. I am very worried though about the volume of fluid that continues to erupt from my nose and which was draining down throat when lying on my RHS. I am even more worried that the root canal may have grown into my sinus. This scenario has caused no end of problems for my mother. I am also concerned at what ‘catastrophic’ means in this type of scenario, as mentioned in an earlier post here. Irealise I must now have the extraction but should I do as my mother now always does, and insist that the tooth is surgically removed rather than simply pulled by the dentist? I am in my mid fifties.

  26. Dr. B.,

    Brownish fluid poured out my nose after the root canal. Literally, I got up off the dentists’ chair and leaned over and the brown fluid gushed out my nose. It’s day 5 now and the it’s the same amount of fluid but now it’s the color yellow. It’s feels like I have a very bad cold on one side of my face. A sort of numb feeling between the top of my nose and sinus. My temple aches and a the stuff drains into my throat when I stand or lay down….but when I lean forward, the fluid gushes out my left nostril. This is a nightmare. Is this permanent? I have met with endontist regarding this and he said I am the FIRST patient of his that this happened to. He brushed it off saying that I will be ok. I am taking amoxicillin. Will I ever be the same again?????????

  27. Lauren HS says:

    Had a root canel on# 12 today. The Dentist was good and gentle. But about 3 hours later I thought I had a runny nose. When I went to wipe it, there was blood, it bled for about 10 minutes. Then started again but packed it this time. Still have more work to be done, will this continue?

  28. Hi:
    I had an upper right root canal done and from the start, my dentist commented that it would be unusual. After i left the dentist, i developed nausea, pain emanating from the affected tooth and surrounding gum and it seemed to radiate into the sinus, i sweated so bad i soaked through my shirt to my suit jacket. I returned to the dentist and he reopened the tooth, flushed it out, put me antibiotics and recovered the temporary filling. Only a few days later, I had to return due to the exact same symptoms. Again, he removed the temporary filling and that relieved the pressure, pain and symptoms. He sent me to an endodontist, in fact 2 of them who tried to complete the root canal. Finally, i saw a dental surgeon who used surgery to complete the process. During the exam, he took a CT scan and said the one root was not straight and in fact some one had drilled into the sinus cavity. He said when he performed surgery he would cauterize the resulting small passage that was made between the tooth and the sinus and that was what was causing the reactions. Oddly, after surgery, when i asked if he had indeed done so, and he said no. He commented he thought about packing it with something but was worried about it dislodging and causing more issues. It’s been almost 4 years, the root canal and a crown were applied but i STILL get the headache, soreness around the tooth, inflammation in the sinus around the tooth, nausea and a feeling of sickness. Surely, there is some way to fix this???? Thanks

  29. I was punched in my front teeth and one of,them broke in half I have recently found the piece that broke off lodged deep into my too lip it has been there for min of 4months now I am getting pain in my teeth neck head behind my nose and eye socket making it hard to see clearly at times and a lump has also come up around my temple which is causes all my head neck and facial nerves to
    throb what do I do?

  30. I had a root canal on right upper #3 Friday it is now Sunday . A few hours after the procedure I was bending over and brown-tinged fluid poured out. There was a funny smell and the leaking but no pain. During the procedure yesterday I was numbed up really well. I had no problems throughout the procedure until the technician started putting that chemical stuff in the canal. I got an immediate burning pain for a few seconds. Since the initial “leak” of fluid, I’ve been having it randomly , and I’m draining that fluid in the back of my throat. I called the doctor that did the procedure after the initial leak on Friday and
    he alluded to the fact that it might be related to the procedure. I do not have allergies. Is this going to be a long term problem? I am always with tissue in my hand now because I don’t know when it will happen again it seems to happen when ever I bend over to pick up something. When should I be worried???

  31. I had a second visit for a root canal today on tooth #14, in which the dentist cleans out the tooth, applies the cement, and seals the tooth with a temporary filling.

    During the procedure, he pierced the sinus cavity (I felt it) with a file. When I got up from the chair, I had a nosebleed. The dentist gave me a script for an antibiotic, and told me to irrigate and take a decongestant. The bleeding seems to have stopped, but I am in a lot of pain. Not sure if it is all from the procedure (never had one before), or worse because of the sinus issue.

    I am pretty nervous about this. Does this happen frequently? Is this the right treatment for it? Obviously the tooth is sealed now, so I am not having any drainage into the mouth.

  32. I had a root canal retreatment on an upper left molar about a year ago. What an experience! The brownish fluid started dripping a few hours after the procedure. I immediately found this site. The next day I went to my physician and got antibiotics. He seemed rather baffled that a dentist could create a perforation into my sinus then shoot sodium hypochlorite into it. Anyway it took almost two weeks for the dripping to fully stop. Just came out a little at a time. Usually in the morning. No big deal. The part that freaked me out is when my left nostril started to go numb a couple days after the procedure. Then the numbness spread to my left upper cheek and my upper lip. It was an odd tingly feeling as it spread. That lasted about 3 weeks then cleared up. What a relief! It’s easy to think the worst. Applying hot towels on my face made me feel better during that time. Surprisingly the tooth felt fine for about six months until the pain came back. I went to a reputable endodontist in Seattle this time for yet another root canal retreatment on the same tooth. The tooth feels great now. I should have gone to her the first time around. Anyway from my research talking to dentists and endodontists about this it is rare to have any permanent damage from the sodium hypochlorite. It just takes time to heal. It wasn’t a fun 3 weeks but I wanted to assure anyone going through this now not to freak out too much. You will get better in time! Also once you recover it is worth speaking to the dentist who messed up to make sure he or she doesn’t charge you for the root canal. I had some insurance issues with my Delta Dental insurance as they originally didn’t want to cover two root canal procedures on the same tooth in such a short time. Definitely don’t let the same dentist try and fix the mistake. Do some research and find a good endodontist!

    • Kevin – I had the same experience as you did with the sodium hypochlorite for 10 days. I could taste and smell it. Root canal experience was awful.

  33. I had root canal treatment a couple of years ago, and about 3 days later i developed a discharge from my nose/sinus same side. I went back to dental specialist and he gave me anti biotics which did nothing, I would have gone back at least 3-4 times. The dentist told me that I had a sinus infection so I was referred to an ENT specialist, hundreds of dollars later and scopes and more anti biotics and pathology tests for differents types of bacterial infections, still not getting better. I was getting worse and the smell coming out was terrible, like old football boots. I was in so much pain and very uncomfortable with a digusting discharge. I went back to ENT and he patted me on the shoulder and told me that I would get better, just be patient. I felt like he really thought I was a hypochondriac. This went on for another month and I was feeling so ill. I eventually went back to GP and insisted on being referred to an other ENT. This ENT was my life saver, I told him how I felt and the mouldy smell and discharge and pain. He put a scope in my sinus and said I think this is a fungal infection, which was later confirmed with pathology. All the anti biotics were making this worse! I was put on anti fungal medication for over a month and had to irrigate my sinus twice a day. I felt so much better even after a few days of the correct treatment. Thought I would share this, I would hate anyone to go through what I endured.

  34. Hi, I came across this forum and after reading the posts I really need advice. I had an upper back tooth removed 4 months ago and there was air flowing through the socket when I pinched my nose. The dentist packed the socket and all seemed fine, he also gave me a course of antibiotics. I didn’t have any probs of water coming through my nose or any of the symptoms I’ve heard mentioned above. The only problem I have is sensitivity at the top of my nose and slight pressure every now and again that seemed to clear itself until this past week. I have just been back to the dentist after 4 months since this sinus perforation and told him I am experiencing some discomfort down the side of my face, ear and top of my nose where the sinus issue was. There’s no air coming through the socket as that seems to have healed fine, but I’m still concerned as I’m now on another course of antibiotics after 4 months. Is there any need for concern here, does this mean there is still a hole in my sinus cavity? My dentist seems to feel there is no need for concern, but I’m not so sure. Is it normal to still feel this sensitivity after 4 months since extraction?

  35. I am going through a root canal of an upper right tooth under my right cheek. Dentist says 4 sessions. 1st session went well he said took out two roots. At almost end of second session I had severe unbearable pain for 1 minute from that tooth root to nose side of the eye. I asked him to inject and num the gum which he did. The pain subsided to 50% before injection and 90% after. Since after a day now when I bent low or have pressure on my forehead during bent, on my straighten up, half teaspoon yellow watery liquid comes out via my right nostril, no pain no itching, very embarrassing in front of people or at work. This answer is very helpful to give an insight to what has happened. My dentist said I have 2 session more, but I will try to address this issue first with dentist/ENT doctor if possible then continue. In 3-4 days time color is sometimes yellow sometime straw yellow, started with reflector yellow.

  36. Sorry I forgot to mention that this happened when he was at the end of 2nd session when he was doing 3rd upper root.

  37. Hi yesturday I went to have the third stage treatment of my root canel done ,I could feel a lot of pain during the filling of the cannels , so I asked for more pain relief I was given an injection into the roof mouth which was very unpleasant , however as soon as she was finished I stood up to the most extream pain I have ever experienced in my face this lasted over an hour . I couldn’t stop crying and the pain made me vomit it was so bad .
    As it slowly got a bit better I went home praying for pain to subside eventually it did over several hours , however the whole time spitting up brown /yellow horrid tasting fluid also running constantly down back of my throat for 2 days and now my nose won’t stop running all the time uncontrollably , I feel unwell from all fluid in my stomach , my sinuses are very sore and gum throbbing but will ease with pain killers I have had root canels done before never any probs .
    Will my nose stop running 🙁 and why to all the severe pain etc can you help me ?

  38. The tooth was my far back right hand molar on the top, Elise

  39. Vicki Kapke says:

    Hi, I also had a root canal drilled into my sinuses and the disinfectant solution run through my nose and down my throat. The next day at work I could not stand to be with in ear shot of our two way radio and similar devise as I could feel some electrical current run through my head. It has gotten better but it is still there. It has been two years and I have lost all my hair twice. My doctors don’t seem to know why. My dentist told me it has nothing to do with my tooth and that I should see an ENT. The ENT was not very helpful either. I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter.

  40. I just had the second session of a triple root canal on #6, 10, and 11. I went in at 8am and was done by10am. During the session of cleaning out the medicated packing material I overheard the Doctor tell his assistant there is some more tissue. I could not comment due to his hands in my mouth, so I dismissed it.

    Immediately after walking out the doors my right nostril (directly above #6) began to run like a water faucet. I called the doctor back about 4pm he told me it was a coincidence and the root canal was not related to the drainage.

    Its now been 24 hours since the root canal. I spend last night with a napkin blocking my nostril. This morning it was soaking wet. All day to day I’ve been walking around with tissue paper I hand. My whole nose on the right side hurts, the nostril burns when I breath in or out, and while there is drainage coming out. It almost reminds me of a broke nose. The way it burns, or if anyone has ever laughed with a mouth full of a carbonated cold drink and the cold drink finds its way to your nostrils.

    This morning I called my family physician to make an appointment. I described what was happening, and the nurse acted like I was wanting attention, not medical help. She would not make the appointment, she was going to give my symptoms to the doctor to see what he wanted to do. I’m worried, I’ve started running fever and now my nasal cavity hurts any when I talk. I’m still waiting on the Doctors Office to call back with whether he will see me or not. Are my concerns legitimate, or am I over reacting?

  41. Sally Kirchoff-Realtor says:

    I just had a root canal on my left upper side back molar. Now I have eye pain and general tenderness that feels like alodonia left side of face towards upper temple. I’ve also noticed that the upper left side palet is all bumpy reaching to the upper part of mouth. I’m on an antibiotic. Will this just need to run it’s course or should I call my doctor?

  42. I had four root canals done all in my font top teeth 4 days ago. I am now experiencing bad sinus pain my left nostril hurts so bad my nose is very runny and the left side of my face hurts bad. and when I bite down it does not feel correct I have to slightly move my bottom teeth to the right

  43. Hiya, had route canal on Monday, nearly midnight on the Thurs, n feel like I have been ten rounds way mike Tyson, eye feels sore as does upper gum n cheek, please can u tell me if that normal or a possible infection thank u

  44. Discovery Dental WA says:

    I agree with the doctor that you need to look for a root canal specialist to over come your root canal problem.

  45. I had a root canal lower right tooth and have eye twitches in my right eye since but they seem to be getting worse. Could this be infection?

  46. It’s been a little under a year that I had a root canal on #13 and #14 at different times, and just a couple days ago, my gums and teeth had start to throb off and on a few times. As the pain grew, I asked my mother if she could call for a dentist check up, and I had been told it was a sinus infection. The pain got worse, and my gums have swollen to the point of almost covering my teeth. It’s only been 3 days, since I’ve been put on antibiotics, but the pain just grows. Is this normal? And what can I do to Soothe the pain, if pain relievers like ibuprofen and TEC 3 doesn’t help?

    • Mark Burhenne DDS says:

      Krystal, I’m sorry to hear you’re in pain. I’d recommend seeing an oral surgeon and getting an x-ray. You need to treat the root cause with this one, I’m afraid. The sinus infection does not cause the gums to cover the teeth.

    • You write so hosnetly about this. Thanks for sharing!

  47. I had a root canal in November and a mild pain has never quite fully left. Also, I have been struggling with post nasal drip and chronic throat mucus since then, and only just now put these symptoms together with the timing of the root canal. X-ray shows the root canaled tooth to be particularly close to the sinus. Would fixing or pulling the tooth help my chronic drainage and cough go away?

  48. Catherine Baker says:

    Since I went to have a root canal, my feet have felt numb. Could this be a cause of having the procedure? My doctor isn’t sure, because she has not ever heard of this. Thank you!

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  50. pls Dr I have being feeling pain in one of my right teeth and I dont know if it is the one cussing me my right nose from breathing and also bring out some bad odor if i senoz . pls help cus I can sleep at all. always having some yallowish water coming out and its making ma head paining so much

  51. I have been having some sinus drainage for 6 months & wondering what to do. Drainage is daily about 97% of time in mid am to mid pm.. Been using a sinus flush daily for 2 weeks with not much help. Recent related events since mid Jan. 2016: sinus infection, sinusitis, took Ampicillin for 10 days from Urgent Care Dr, root canal, 10 days of penicillin 800 mg, had brown spots on my hands, took Cipro by PCP 10 days 800 mg, still have sinus drainage & sore smelly gums in same area as root canal tooth.

  52. I also had a root canal about 4 weeks ago on the upper 4th tooth on the right side. The tooth split vertical and was capped about 1 week prior to the root canal. I don’t have any pain above the tooth, but the tooth still aches when I touch/push it with my tongue. The endodontist said the only solution was a surgical procedure where they cut & pull back the gum, then clean out the area above the tooth. I would like your opinion on the surgery? And could the tooth splitting vertically cause the discomfort in the tooth after the root canal?

    Also, my neighbor said she had the same issue and went for a second opinion. The new dentist said there were two canals in the tooth and her first dentist only did the root canal on one. He did the second canal and she was pain free..

  53. Hi, My name Is April. I have a question about my sinus drainage after my oral surgery. I had 5 teeth removed. Four of these teeth were under my gums pushing up and pushing out on my teeth. I also had one tooth up in the top all the way back on left side removed. So #13 ?. Ok.. about my symptoms numbness chin,lip. Sinus yellowish and little bloody drainage when I bend over. Is this sinus drainage normal? It’s been actually 2 weeks today Friday 22 since I had this massive surgery. I know the chin numbess is normal. Could be months. This sinus stuff is so new and scary with it bleeding. I just don’t want no infections. I’m not in any pain at all. I Just would like to ease my mind about this. Thanks for any tips..

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  55. I had the same issue as the original poster. Dentist thought it was allergic reaction. I had the sneezing spells and could literally taste and smell the sodium hypochlorite. Dentist said there was not possible I could taste the sodium hypochlorite and probably was allergies. Any comments?

    • I had the sneezing spells for 10 days straight. Awful.

  56. Today I went in for a root canal on tooth 13. During the procedure, the dentist hit my nasal cavity. I told him I felt a sharp pain followed by burning, which he then stated was from the disinfectant he was using. Ended up putting in a temporary filling, and said to come back in 5 weeks…. well once I got home (an hour away) I realized that my tooth was no fillled properly in my eyes. It feels sharp and brittle due to it having parts of the hole not filled. Also, nearly 10 hours later, I began to have nasal drainage.. my dentist did tell me this would happen and would be normal, and it would be OKAY to blow my nose. So I went to blow, and did so very gently and cautiously,, and the first time it went fine. Second time, I felt a pain in my nasal cavity. Is this normal? He also suggested a netti pot, but I haven’t left home to get one yet being that I have been asleep from the Tylenol 3 I was given. I did call the dentist back about my tooth filling, but is the pain associated with blowing my nose normal? And he said this is the 4 time this has happened to him in 20 years… is that a bad thing? I’m really nervous to go back and have ANY dental work done now. I fear having something done wrong and messing me up forever! ?

    • I would see an endodontist right away before things get worse. The burning sensation was caused by the disinfectant he used; most commonly diluted bleach. Sinus drainage is a bad sign and blowing one’s nose is not the right advice to give. Sorry to hear this happened to you. It will most likely heal but only if you are getting the right advice at this point in time. See the endodontist and have him/her complete the root canal. DrB.

  57. Elizabeth says:

    I had the same thing happen to me when i had my root canal and my root was extra long when he was putting the things in on the final day I started snorting uncontrolabley and I felt like I couldn’t breath thru my nose after they finished I went home and about 3 he’s later the pain started I called the Dr they said I’d have some discomfort but this wasn’t just discomfort it had me in tears I went in pain without anything for the pain and I still have pain from my gums til about half way thru my cheek none and it’s been over a month what do u suggest

  58. Natalie Daniels says:

    Hi my name is Natalie, I had decay removed from my front #9 tooth and crowned, it was still causing pain so a year later he did a root canal on it. Still having pain a year and a half later he decided to do a retreat on the root canal, even though I asked him to cut the crown off cause it was hurting like my #10 root canal crowned tooth that has been imploted up in my gum and had to be surgically removed. Well yet again with this roit canal I habe a sharp pain deep in my nose like I can feel the root canal went into my nose, only on the left side along with pain in the bridge of my nose, hurts to touch. I was crying in pain with my nose while he was doing the root canal. He said I shouldnt be feeling pain from the root canal and it is not related. I have asked him to just pull the toith cause I cant even bite into food it hurts so bad. But he is very determined to save the tooth. Is this pain related to the root canal? I have had all his work go bad little by little and my body has been in so much pain, and reacurring infections since I have gone to him 3 years ago. I cant find a dentist that takes my insurance and has gas. Please help, I am at my whits end with all this. I am about to just fet upper dentures. Thank you so much.

  59. Uhhhhg I had a root canal on the top right side second to last tooth about 5 years ago. They never capped it. Since last year I been getting pain from that side going into the bottom right and my right temple. What can I do or take to stop this horrible pain? I’m already talking antibiotics and ty3 but the ty3s aren’t helping the pain and this is the 3rd time this year that this pain has came back.

    • Dr. Mark Burhenne says:

      It may have nothing do with the lack of cap. could be a reinfection of the the root canaled tooth, and could have serious consequences. Have an X-ray taken of the area. Do this as soon as you can as your face could start swelling. sorry!


  60. I had a root canal treatment today on the 3rd upper tooth on the left. I was given an anesthesia and shortly afterwards I felt extreme dryness in my left nostril and the roof of my mouth. After the procedure I asked the Dentist as I’ve had other root canals and have never experienced this symptom. He said the anesthesia had adrenalin and was preventing blood flow to my nostril and it would clear up in 3 hours. It’s been over 6 hours and I still have it but now with constant sneezing and very funny nose. The discharge is clear mucous and I don’t taste anything weird. I used one shot of avamays nasal spray and feel slight relief. Is this a mild side effect which will go away on its own or is it a serious complication?

    I have to go back next week to complete the root canal procedure and am wondering if the anesthesia can be changed to suit me.

    Would appreciate your inputs,please.

  61. I meant runny nose,sorry.

  62. I had implant posts put in number 13 and 14 teeth upper today
    That’s near my sinus and my left nostril is itchy and I feel like I need to sneeze but he told me not to except through my mouth and for the last few hours water comes out of my left nostril no bad smell or anything. Normal

  63. I have had this twice as all my top back teeth have roots that go into the sinus.

    I had 20 years of chronic pain after the first tooth was root filled and then badly extracted.
    Dentists do not take responsibility for the damage they do and leave you to rot.
    It’s awful.

    Here is one thing you can do yourself that has helped me.
    I’m not a doctor just a survivor and it is at your own risk.

    Make a sinus wash by boiling water and letting it cool to a comfortable temperature.
    Add a lot of salt and some tea tree oil (unless allergic)
    Gently, with your head leaning to the side of the problem, sniff the water up your nose aiming to get it into the damaged sinus and have a good swish round.
    DO NOT suck it into your ears.

    Do this very carefully then blow your nose afterwards to get the muck out.

    Twice a day is helpful.
    If there is no defect where the tooth enters the sinus you may heal in the end.
    If there is some problem with the root filling it will never work.
    If your immune system isn’t very good (EG untreated hypothyroid) you may not heal so well but need extra antibiotics.
    Do not overlook the problem of fungal infections in sinuses, all the doctors do.
    This is why Tea Tree oil – it is broad spectrum.

    • Do not suck it into my ears. I’m not even sure I would know how to do that, or how to not do that. :/

  64. Son had a root canal done yesterday in lots of pain face is swelling to his lip including the lip is taking medicine for a infection what is he due to do now should he go to the er

  65. Pretty much the EXACT same thing happened to me when I got my top two wisdom teeth removed over two months ago!
    Watery snot was draining from my nose for days, especially when I bent over, and it smelled chemically. I then got SUPER sick, had fever and chills for days and went to both my doctor and dentist and they both said it was just a cold and completely unrelated to my wisdom teeth, but I know that isn’t true. The very day i had my teeth pulled (they were just pulled while I was numbed, not under anaesthesia), my sinuses began draining, and I have had weird sinus feeling ever since. Before this I don’t think I’ve ever had a sinus problem in my life. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the weird feeling in my sinuses?
    Pretty pissed at my dentist, she INSISTED it was just a cold and that there’s no way it was related, but I find that impossible.

  66. I’m having a slightly different issue.
    I had a root canal on #14.

    I also have a problem in my ears with the eustachian tubes (they don’t work well).
    Now I have fluid in my left ear. I’m not in a position to have the tubes fixed at this time.

    I think so, but what is your take? And what can really be done about it?

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