Pain After Your Root Canal – What’s Normal?

Root canals are common procedures for treating tooth pain caused by decayed or infected teeth. Since this procedure is an invasive one that involves opening the affected tooth, you might experience some pain afterward. Knowing what is normal for root canal discomfort and what to do if it gets worse is important if you need to have this kind of treatment done.


Pain During Root Canals

Root canals used to have a reputation for being painful, but advancements in root canal techniques and pain management have improved this. When you have a root canal done, your endodontist makes an opening in the affected tooth to get to the inner part, known as the pulp. A root canal involves having infected or decayed pulp removed from your tooth, then having your tooth sealed up again to protect it from bacteria. While this might sound uncomfortable, you shouldn’t experience any significant pain or discomfort during a root canal.

Endodontists take steps to minimize root canal pain, such as having patients receive local anesthesia to numb the treated area. You might feel pressure while having your root canal. However, you shouldn’t expect to feel any discomfort or pain until the local anesthesia wears off.


Pain After Root Canals

When your root canal is done, the local anesthesia typically wears off within a short amount of time. As this happens, you might start to feel mild pain or discomfort from having your tooth worked on. While the nerve is no longer in your tooth, the surrounding tissue, nerves, and ligaments might become swollen or inflamed, leading to discomfort. This slight pain should be temporary and fade within a few days. Keep in mind that some people feel immediate relief after a root canal.

Your endodontist will provide you with root canal care instructions to help the treated tooth fully heal without any complications. Root canal pain is usually mild after the procedure takes place, so you should be able to find short-term relief with over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. In general, the longer you’ve been dealing with pain in your tooth, the longer it usually takes to fully heal.

After having a root canal, you might also have soreness in your jaw from having to keep it open for a long period of time. This muscle pain should be mild as well and go away within a few days.


Root Canal Care to Ease Pain

It’s important to follow all of the post-care instructions for your root canal, which helps reduce the risk of infections or other complications that can cause severe pain. In addition to taking over-the-counter pain relievers, you should avoid eating crunchy or hard foods right afterward. Chewing on these types of foods can cause more pain in the affected tooth, especially if you don’t have a temporary crown in place right after your procedure. Your endodontist will let you know when you can brush the affected tooth again after your root canal, which might not be until the temporary crown is in place. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush on the treated tooth to lower the risk of pain or damage.


When to Seek Help

Root canal pain should not last more than a few days or become so severe that it interferes with your day-to-day activities. If you experience severe pain or pain that doesn’t go away, you should see your endodontist immediately. Severe or persistent pain can occur if an infection is still present in the treated tooth or if a new one develops, such as if the bacteria inside it was not fully removed. You might also have ongoing or worsening pain if the affected tooth has minor damage, such as a tiny crack, or if there’s a problem with the filling inside your tooth.

Keep in mind that you should see your endodontist if minor pain lasts for more than a month or if severe pain lasts for one to two weeks. If you have minor pain, your endodontist will recheck your tooth to determine why it still hurts. If you have severe pain, your endodontist will determine if your root canal failed. While this can happen, it’s highly uncommon. If your root canal does fail, you might need to have retreatment done, which involves having the tooth treated again. Make sure you ask your endodontist any questions you have about root canals before having this procedure done. This helps ensure that you’ll know what to expect during and afterward.

If you have tooth pain and think you might need a root canal, please contact Largo Endodontics for an appointment. Dr. Ernest Rillman, our endodontist, can find out what’s causing your tooth pain and determine if a root canal is needed.