Is Root Canal Treatment Painful - When Should I Seek Help?
Most people associate having a root canal with a lot of pain and discomfort. However, while most people can expect some discomfort during and after a root canal procedure, excessive pain is not normal.
A successful root canal can cause mild pain for a few days. This is temporary, and should go away on its own as long as you practice good oral hygiene. You should see your dentist for a follow-up if the pain lasts longer than three days.
Pain Management Right After Root Canal Treatment
Before the process begins, your dentist will apply a local anesthetic that minimizes pain. You might still feel pressure during the cleaning, but you shouldn’t be in pain during the actual procedure.
As the local anesthetic wears off after the root canal, you might experience mild pain and sensitivity. This is related to the cleaning process. During the cleaning process, your dentist makes a small opening in the crown of the tooth and cleans out diseased pulp inside the pulp chamber of the tooth. While uncomfortable, any pain and sensitivity following a root canal should only last a few days.
Since the pain experienced after a root canal is usually mild, you’ll likely only need over-the-counter pain medications for relief. These include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB). You’ll want to check with your doctor before taking these medications to make sure they don’t interact with any supplements or prescriptions you already take.
You should also avoid chewing hard foods immediately following the root canal, as this can induce more pain.
When to Seek Help?
Root canal pain should decrease over time. If you still experience pain or swelling after a few days, you should see your dentist.
Fortunately, most root canals are successful. However, some root canal treatments are unsuccessful, and a person can experience more pain over time. There are many reasons why this happens: the restoration begins to leak, poor oral or dental hygiene, presence of an extra canal in the tooth that the dentist cannot see, an obstruction such as a curved root canal that prevents complete cleaning of the canal or vertical cracks in the tooth.
If your pain increases over time following a root canal treatment, it may be an indication that your root canal is failing. You should see your dentist right away.