Root canals get a bum rap. Their very name can conjure dreadful notions of pain and suffering in the minds of patients. Because of these fears, many people put off getting a root canal out of concern about pain.
Fortunately, better techniques, improved technology, and advances in anesthetics have allowed modern dentistry to make root canals more comfortable for patients.
While soreness after a root canal is unavoidable, the good news is that this pain should decrease over time. Here are some facts about how long a root canal should be sore.
Is Pain After a Root Canal Normal?
Yes. After your root canal, you may feel some pain and tenderness for a day or two. This is normal because root canals affect the sensitive tissue, blood vessels, and nerves of the pulp chamber, as well as the surrounding gums.
Here are some ways to alleviate soreness after a root canal:
- Avoid chewing hard foods around the affected tooth for several days.
- Continue practicing proper dental hygiene by flossing and brushing.
- Take pain medication recommended by your doctor, following the instructions.
- Do not poke or prod the affected tooth and surrounding area.
- Rinse with salt water to clear the mouth of any bacteria.
When Does Root Canal Pain Go Away?
Determining how long a root canal will be sore depends on the pain threshold of each individual person. In most cases, patients will experience mild discomfort or pain for a few days after treatment. Generally, the pain is short-lived as long as the patient uses proper dental hygiene.
If you experience prolonged pain for several days, contact your dental provider.
Can Root Canal Pain Come and Go?
At the beginning of your root canal procedure, you will be given a local anesthetic, which will help numb pain in the area around the affected tooth during the process.
Once the local anesthetic wears off, patients usually experience some soreness. The pain usually takes the form of a steady ache or throbbing pain. It does not, as a general rule, come and go.
If you do experience recurring pain that comes and goes, it might be a sign of a different problem, such as an infected nerve ending. If you find the pain coming and going, contact your dentist or oral surgeon. Try to give them some idea of when the pain comes on, and what you are doing at the time.
Do I Really Need a Root Canal?
Root canals are needed when the inside of a tooth is decayed, has died, and become inflamed or infected.
This sensitive area of the inner tooth, called the pulp chamber, is filled with tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. It also features one or more pathways (canals) that extend from the roots of each tooth into the bone. When the pulp chamber is damaged or infected, a root canal is performed to restore the tooth.
Root canal procedures are commonplace and involve extracting the damaged pulp from inside the affected tooth and then filling any vacant canals with gutta-percha, a rubbery plastic-like material that provides insulation for the chamber. The tooth is then capped with a temporary crown until the patient returns later to receive a permanent one.
What Is an Endodontist? Do I Need One With a Painful Root Canal?
Performing root canals is a branch of dentistry known as endodontics. While some dental health professionals, called endodontists, specialize in endodontics exclusively, many dentists offer endodontic services, too.
While root canals are pretty routine nowadays, there can be instances where a root canal is done poorly, or leads to more pain than it should. In these cases, it is OK to get a second opinion from another endodontist or dentist who does endodontics.
Dangers Of Not Getting a Root Canal
Misconceptions about pain often lead people to put off getting a root canal. This is not recommended for several reasons:
- Avoiding a root canal could cause more pain.
- There is a higher risk of having the infection spread to other areas.
- Delaying treatment can lead to an abscessed tooth.
- There is a higher risk of losing the infected tooth.
When it comes to root canals, patients with concerns over toxicity should use our search tool to locate experienced dental professionals in their area.