Root Canal Pain – What To Expect And How To Manage It

Root canal pain is likely to be pretty distressing for anyone unfortunate enough to have a tooth abscess yet, many people fear to undergo root canal treatment a lot more.

Thanks to new advancements in technology, however, undergoing root canal treatment is more comfortable now than it was in decades past and most importantly the procedure itself is designed to get you out of pain fast. Modern local anaesthetics also ensure that patients remain as comfortable as possible during root canal therapy and typically they will feel little or no discomfort during the process.

This isn’t much consolation, however, to the patients who experience pain after a root canal. So with this in mind, what can you typically expect after undergoing endodontic treatment and how can you manage any discomfort?

Firstly, let’s take a closer look at what is normal…

It’s important to note that a root canal procedure is classed as a major procedure and although it’s a non-invasive process, treatment does involve getting deep inside the tooth. As a result, some pain or discomfort after the event is pretty normal given the circumstances. There are several reasons for this…


Gum tissue can be left swollen and inflamed

Even though the dentist has removed the nerve-containing pulp from the tooth, smaller nerves located in the tooth ligament and surrounding tissue are left behind. When this area has been poked and pulled about as you might expect from root canal treatment, it will swell and become inflamed. When it does it can also be a contributing factor to root canal pain after treatment.


Damage by instrument

One part of the root canal treatment involves clearing out the infected pulp from the delicate root canal system. Sometimes this can cause temporary damage to the surrounding soft tissue- which, in turn, can lead to temporary root canal pain.


Gum tissue trauma

pain after root canal root canal pain burwood roadBefore a root canal procedure is performed the tooth is isolated using a rubber dam. This is held in place using a small metal clamp. It can happen that the prongs of the metal clamp may pinch or bruise the gum tissue leaving the area feeling uncomfortable. Again, any root canal pain is temporary and should dissipate within a few days.

Often the use of saltwater rinses speed up the healing process, but this is something that your dentist should be able to give you more information on.


A high temporary filling

More often than not, after the canal of the tooth has been cleaned out and back-filled, it is fitted with a temporary crown to protect the tooth until a permanent restoration is complete. If the bite point of that filling is too high then it can cause the mouth to bite down harder on a specific spot. This can make the tooth feel ore.

Typically, any sensitivity felt usually occurs between 24 and 72 hours after endodontic treatment. This is the period when swelling in and around the bone normally peaks. However, this is almost always temporary and will subside provided that you take the right actions.


Managing root canal pain after treatment


One of the most effective medications used to relieve root canal pain is over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAID’s). Pain killers like Ibuprofen are typically the medication of choice and are usually sufficient to ease the discomfort that most patients experience. For healthy adults, a common dose might be 200 to 400 mg taken orally every 4-6 hours.


Prescription medications

If for some reason a patient’s pain can’t be controlled using over the counter medications such as Ibuprofen alone, a narcotic analgesic may well be prescribed by your dentist. These are in effect higher-dose prescription pain relievers. In some cases, they can be administered in conjunction with NSAID’s to give better relief when needed but this is something you should always discuss with your dentist.



Chances are that in addition to taking over the counter pain-killers, you may also be prescribed a course of antibiotics, particularly if tissue infection is suspected. If this is the case then it’s best to ensure you follow dental instructions and take the entire course. Don’t forget that antibiotics can take up to 48 hours to get into the system before they can even start to fight infection. So always follow instructions for best results.


Other tips for managing root canal pain after treatment include:

  • A cold compress – if you have suffered swelling and bruising after a root canal therapy then a good remedy for easing the problem is a cold compress placed over the cheek area in 5-minute cycles. Do this every 20 minutes and repeat as many times as necessary.
  • Thorough but gentle cleaning – Regular gentle cleaning around the root canal area can encourage speedy healing and subsequently, less pain.
  • Pay attention to how you feel – In essence, when it comes to root canal pain, slight discomfort is normal for a few days after the event, but prolonged or excruciating bursts of pain are not. For this reason, if you are experiencing the latter, then it’s important to get back in touch with your dentist who can take a closer look.

So there you have it, how to control and manage any root canal pain both before and after.


Remember, you should never have to put up with any form of tooth pain as it’s normally a good indicator that something isn’t right. For this reason, contact the team at Dental 266. Our highly experienced team will do whatever it takes to get you out of pain fast.

Call today at 02 9051 0600 for a consultation.

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