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What to do if You’re Experiencing Pain After a Root Canal: How to Decide

How to Decide?

Answer the following questions:

  1. Has been three days since the root canal and the pain is still severe?
  2. Are you still sensitive to hot and cold?
  3. Are you biting too heavily on the root canal treated tooth?

If you answered “yes” to the above questions then you need to go to to the dentist for a followup. If you’re still having pain or hot and cold sensitivity, the root canal may not have been performed satisfactorily and you may require further work done on the tooth. However if the bite is high a simple bite adjustment can get the job done and eliminate your pain within a few hours.

helpful hint – Keep in mind that if you have been putting too much pressure on the tooth for several days then dropping the bite will help out some, but it will a couple of days for the pain to completely disappear. Give it some time, maintain a soft diet and continue taking your medications until the pain has fully vanished. If it still persists you may have to receive your crown right away.

If you answered “no” to the above questions then you are probably going through the normal healing process and should allow the tooth more time to heal up before going back to the dentist.

Final Thought

Having a root canal is not that different from having a tooth extraction and it requires a few days to recover from the treatment. Whenever you have a very painful root canal infection or if you’ve had a chronic, lingering infection in the tooth then odds are you will be in pain for two to three days afterwards.

  • Make sure to discuss with your dentist that the root canal has been successfully completed
  • Make sure your dentist checks your bite to ensure there’s not too much pressure being applied to the tooth
  • Give your tooth a little break from chewing hard items until it has had a chance to heal up
  • And if you want to be even safer then get some medications that work for you and take them as recommended
NEXT >> What to do if You’re Experiencing Pain After a Root Canal: Go Back to the Dentist

What to do if You’re Experiencing Pain After a Root Canal: Wait a Little First

What to do if You’re Experiencing Pain After a Root Canal: Wait a Little First

1. It is typical to have two to three days of pain following most root canal treatments. You need to realize that a root canal is basically a minor surgery which removes the nerve tissues and the infection from the tooth. And like any other surgical procedure there is a recovery period as your body responds to recovering from the treatment. So being in pain for 2 to 3 days after the root canal is totally normal.

helpful hint – As a rule of thumb, the more pain you present to your dentist with before the root canal is completed, the more severe and long-lasting the pain will be after the procedure has been completed. Make sure to request stronger painkillers and possibly some antibiotics for these more painful root canal infections as a precaution.

2. You could be feeling pain due to the tooth being tender and weak. This type of pain can be very confusing for patients and even for dentists. To understands this concept you must realize that there are two types of severe pain a tooth can experience, nerve pain and pressure pain.

  • One type of pain is caused by the nerves inside the tooth roots. This is usually reactive to hot and cold reactive. This is exactly the type of pain that a root canal treats and fixes.
  • The other type of pain comes from the nerves and tissue surrounding the tooth, known as the periodontal ligaments. This is a pressure type of pain. You can still experience this pain on a tooth that has had a successful root canal because the origin of the pain is not the tooth itself but the gum tissues surrounding the tooth.

If the tooth is tender after the root canal treatment because a lot of the tooth structure has been removed then you will continue to feel pain from these periodontal ligaments and this is normal. In summary, hot and cold pain after a root canal treatment is not normal whereas pressure pain is to be accepted.

3. You should allow the tooth some time to heal. You need to give the tooth a few days to recover from the a root canal treatment. It is best to stick with a soft diet and try to put less pressure on this tooth. Get some rest if you can and take the pain killers and/or antibiotics that you may have been given. If the prescribed medications aren’t strong enough or if you weren’t given any then you should probably contact your dentist to discuss this. You can even have the dentist call in your medications if you don’t want to bother going back in. However there is no reason to panic or expect that anything has gone wrong within the first two to three days after the treatment is completed as this is normal.

NEXT >> How to Decide

 What to do if You’re Experiencing Pain After a Root Canal: Go Back to the Dentist

What to do if You’re Experiencing Pain After a Root Canal: Go Back to the Dentist

You finally decided to go and get that one painful tooth fixed and receive a root canal. You were explained that a root canal is basically the process of removing the nerve tissues from the tooth and replacing it with a rubber like material. This gets rid of the pain and the infection will eventually go away so you get to keep the tooth at the same time. But somehow your tooth is still hurting even though there is supposedly no more nerves in it. How could this be? Should you wait to see if the pain subsides on its own? Or could something have gone wrong and it’s best to go back to the dentist right away?

Pros of Going to the Dentist

1. There may be an unsuspected nerve left behind. This usually happens with the back teeth, particularly the molar teeth which have multiple nerves.

  • All front teeth as well as lower bicuspids usually have one nerve and area easy root canals to perform.
  • Upper bicuspids usually have two nerves and are so-so difficult. Sometimes the dentist misses the lingual canal.
  • Lower molars are hard since they usually have 3 or 4 nerves and your dentist may miss one
  • Upper molars are the hardest. They may have as many as 5 different nerves in one tooth. Most dentists will refer these to an endodontist, although some very skilled ones can fix these as well.

Your dentist may have inadvertently left a nerve behind without even knowing it existed. If this is the case and there was a nerve unnoticed then you shall continue experiencing sensitivity to hot and especially cold even after the root canal is done. This can be a big problem. Your dentist may need to either go back in and find the nerve or you will have to be offered a refund and an immediate referral to the root canal specialist, an endodontist, who can find and fill this evasive nerve.

2. Your tooth nerves may have been improperly filled. Now this is not supposed to happen but unfortunately it does sometimes. To complete a root canal the tooth nerves must be properly removed and filled with a sterile material. The filling material, known as the gutta percha, needs to pretty much fill the entire nerve. If this filling material does not fit well to the nerve, such as if it is short of the end of the nerve or if it sticks out too far past the nerve, then this is a problem which needs to be addressed. You may have to be refunded for the root canal fee and referred to the endodontist to have the work redone properly.

helpful hint – It is a good idea to ask your dentist to show and discuss the final root canal X-ray as a verification of the success of the treatment whenever possible. Also, if you have dental insurance, the insurance will only pay your dentist if they submit an X-ray showing an acceptable root canal which is a nice safety net to have!

3. The bite may be left too high. This is one of the most common problems that gets overlooked all too often. When your root canal has been completed the tooth is filled with a temporary filling material until the time to do the crown. Because the tooth is now traumatized and a lot of the tooth structure has been removed to do the root canal it becomes very weak and tender. If the tooth or the temporary filling is left where you are biting on it then the pressure applied can cause severe pressure pain. So it is very important to make sure the tooth has been taken out of bite after the root canal is completed for the pain to dissipate. This literally takes a minute but many times dentists or endodontists fail to do so.

helpful hint – If you feel that you are applying too much pressure to the root canal treated tooth then you need to go back to your dentist to have the bite adjusted. But the better solution is to always test your bite right after the root canal treatment has been completed to verify a correct bite and avoid this unnecessary additional visit.

NEXT >> Wait a Little First

What to do if You’re Experiencing Pain After a Root Canal: How to Decide