I had a root canal nine months ago on my upper left molar (#16), about 19 months after my then-dentist nicked the root of the tooth during a filling. A permanent crown was placed six weeks after the root canal. Since the crown was put on, I have sometimes had very short, infrequent episodes of mild pain in the tooth when biting, typically caused by food getting trapped by the tooth, that always resolve themselves.
Today a piece of food got stuck in between #16 and #15, which immediately caused a rather sharp pain which did not cease. I was at work and not able to floss it out for several hours. When I flossed, I noted there was some blood, and the pain still remains on biting even though I removed all the food particles. (Typically the pain has always subsided after a very short time.) The pain is not anywhere near as severe as the original toothache that provoked the root canal (maybe a 3 with the original pain being 10), but it is definitely the most severe it has been since the tooth healed from the root canal. I note the pain primarily when eating and biting down on that side, even when I just tap my teeth together. Vertical pressure that causes pain; it doesn't hurt if I tap the side of the tooth with my fingernail, but it does hurt when I tap directly on the grinding surface of the tooth, especially between the grooves. It is neither cold nor heat sensitive, and other than ample bleeding while flossing between the teeth there is no visible swelling or discoloration of the gums.
What do you recommend that I do? Is it possible these could be symptoms of a failed root canal? Can I wait on this a few days or weeks? I am a Peace Corps Volunteer and the medical office does not like to take many chances, so reporting this issue to them will probably mean a lengthy and work-disrupting trip to the capital to see an approved dentist. Hoping to get some opinions about the severity of my situation before making a call.