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It’s not uncommon to need a root canal at some point in your life. Despite their reputation, most root canal procedures are no more painful than having a cavity filled. However, many people wonder if they will experience pain after a root canal. The short answer is that it is normal to feel some discomfort and tenderness following the procedure, but the level of pain or tenderness depends on the circumstances of the root canal and the cause of the discomfort. For example, if the tooth was infected before the root canal, you’re more likely to have post-procedure pain than if it wasn’t.
After your procedure, you may feel some pain or discomfort in your gums or the tooth itself. Most of the pain or tenderness is temporary, and it generally responds well to over-the-counter pain medications. Below you’ll find a list of some of the most common causes of post-root canal pain in order from most common to least common. At Jones Bridge Dental Care, we’ll follow up with you after your procedure. However, If you have severe pain or the pain lasts for more than a few days, you should contact your dentist immediately so that they can help you as soon as possible.

Common Causes of Post-Root Canal Pain


During your procedure, your dentist has to isolate the tooth using a rubber dam. The metal clamps used to hold the dam in place can cause slight trauma to the periodontal tissue, commonly known as gum tissue, surrounding the tooth being worked on. This trauma can include pinching, bruising, and cutting. This type of pain should heal within a few days and have no lasting effect.


The most common source of pain in the tooth after a root canal is inflammation of the tissues surrounding the root of the tooth. Inflammation can occur if the dentist’s root canal files poke beyond the tip of the root or if debris escapes in this area. While a good dentist does everything they can to prevent this from occurring, it can happen. An over-the-counter pain medication with anti-inflammatory properties (e.g. ibuprofen or aspirin) can help alleviate pain caused by tissue inflammation.


If the tooth was infected before your root canal, the pain can sometimes linger as the infection heals. On occasion, a tooth can be infected without much pain occurring before a root canal procedure. Unfortunately, in this instance, the infection can sometimes be activated by the procedure, which can result in a painful, acute infection. This scenario is less likely than simple inflammation, but it does occur. Your doctor will generally prescribe an antibiotic and, if the pain is severe, a prescription pain reliever.


Hyperocclusion refers to a tooth that is longer than it should be. After your procedure, inflammation can actually cause temporary hyperocclusion. Another cause is when the restoration (filling or crown) of your tooth is improperly fitted. When this occurs, your dentist will need to correct it by shortening the tooth to correct your bite. This is done to relieve the pain and to prevent the tooth from fracturing due to undue stresses.


In rare instances, the root canal can be unsuccessful. Excessive, severe pain that does not go away after a few days is often a sign of root canal complications. Other warning signs may be:
No lessening of pain level from before the procedure
Persistent or worsening toothache
Swelling, fluid accumulation, or drainage
Extreme sensitivity to cold
Recurring pain after a few days of feeling normal
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your dentist immediately.

Jones Bridge Dental Care offers Complimentary Second Opinions. If you are unsure about your dental care treatment plan, please don’t hesitate to call us.

While root canals are not the most fun experience, they can help you keep your real teeth. If you have a toothache, talk to a qualified dental professional as soon as possible to save yourself pain and trouble.