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If you’re facing root canal therapy then it’s hardly surprising that you’re feeling some anxiety and trepidation about root canal pain. After all, root canal treatment has long had a (misleading) reputation for being painful. The good news is that modern technology coupled with the use of sedation and anaesthetics means that generally speaking, root canal procedure is typically pain-free. 

Granted, this isn’t much consolation for anyone experiencing pain after a root canal. So, with this in mind, what can a person typically expect after endodontic treatment and how can they manage any discomfort? 


Let’s start by taking a look at what’s considered ‘normal’

We should mention at this point that the root canal procedure is considered a major dental procedure and although, it’s non-invasive, treatment does involve going deep inside the tooth. Consequently, given the circumstances, some discomfort in the coming days is fairly normal. There are a few reasons for this…

  • The gum tissue around the root-filled tooth is still swollen – Even though the nerve root has been removed from the tooth, there are several smaller nerves both in the ligaments and tissue around the tooth. It’s not uncommon for these nerves to register pain after a dental procedure that leaves the area inflamed
  • High temporary filling – Often a temporary filling is placed following a root canal to give the tooth chance to settle. If it’s not been sufficiently smoothed down, it may be sitting higher than the surrounding tooth. This can cause the mouth to bite down harder which would make the tooth feel sore.
  • Instrument damage – It may be that a dental instrument used to clean out the infected pulp from the delicate root canal has damaged the surrounding tissue temporarily and this can lead to temporary root canal pain.

In most cases, any discomfort associated with root canal therapy should disappear within a few days. 


How to manage root canal pain at home? 

Over the counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen are usually sufficient to ease any discomfort that patients may be feeling. For a healthy adult, the dose is commonly 200-400 mg taken by mouth every 4-6 hours.


after treatment of root canal pain west rydePrescription medications 

If for any reason, a patient is struggling to manage their discomfort with over the counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen, their dentist may well prescribe a narcotic analgesic. In essence, this is a higher-dose prescription painkiller. In some cases, they can be used in conjunction with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to provide better relief when needed, but this is something that should always be discussed first with your dentist. 



It’s quite likely that besides taking over the counter painkillers, your dentist may also prescribe a course of antibiotics, especially if tissue infection is suspected. This being the case, it’s important to complete the whole course. They can take up to 48 hours before they enter the system and start fighting infection, hence the reason to complete the course for the best results.  

Other tips for managing pain after a root canal include:

  • Watching what you eat –  Avoid eating food that is hard or crunchy while your tooth is healing. Failing to do so can exacerbate the pain and may also break the temporary filling which is quite delicate. 
  • Thorough but gentle cleaning – Regular gentle brushing with a soft toothbrush around the root canal helps promote speedy healing and subsequently less pain.
  • Quit smoking – Nicotine in tobacco is known to slow down healing so it’s best to quit smoking during the healing period, and for good, if you possibly can. Your oral (and overall) health will certainly benefit from it.
  • A cold compress – If following root canal treatment you’ve suffered bruising and swelling, one effective method of easing the problem is to place a cold compress over the cheek-area for 5-minute cycles for as long as you need it. 
  • Consider how you feel – When it comes to root canal pain it’s normal to feel an element of discomfort for a few days but it’s not usual to experience prolonged or short bursts of excruciating pain. If you are experiencing the latter, then it’s important to get in touch with your dentist soonest and he will book you in to take a closer look. 

Of, course, if you don’t want to experience the possibility of discomfort after root canal therapy then it’s best to take all necessary precautions to avoid the need for treatment.


Here’s how you can do exactly that

To avoid a root canal procedure, anyone who has a toothache is advised to visit their dentist promptly. This is to prevent any infection worsening, forming an abscess, or spreading throughout the entire tooth root system. 

No-one should have to endure any form of tooth pain as it’s normally an indication that something is not quite right. If you have a niggling tooth problem, then please do book an appointment with our friendly experienced team at MyDentist West Ryde. 


You can call us on 02 8073 9338 or book a consultation. We’re here to get you out of pain and back to normal fast, so don’t delay because help is at hand.