Is Pain After Root Canal Treatment Normal?

Bacteria thrive in the mouth. Much of it is good bacteria, helping with digestion- but some of it is unhealthy. This is why proper oral hygiene habits are important- to keep bacteria from causing complications. Unfortunately, sometimes a tooth gets damaged, and bacteria moves into the dental pulp, causing an infection.

When this happens, the team at Glow Up Dentistry will typically recommend root canal treatment. The purpose of this procedure is to remove the damaged/decayed dental pulp, which should ultimately resolve dental pain. This is recommended to avoid tooth extraction. This is an extensive procedure, which can cause some discomfort, but due to modern advancements in technology and anesthesia, it is not as painful as you might expect.

Additionally, due to the extensiveness of the procedure, some mild to moderate recovery pain can be expected. However, the pain should subside within a few days. If you have excessive pain beyond a week, you need to be evaluated.

Common Causes of Pain After Root Canal Treatment

During the initial recovery period, many patients report feeling some tenderness or sensitivity. Typically, this lasts a few days after the procedure, but should ultimately resolve on its own.

The primary reasons for pain after root canal treatment include:

Continued Swelling and Inflammation

While the nerves and blood vessels have been removed from the affected tooth, the nerves in the ligaments and tissue around the tooth remain. Due to the inflammation from the infection, these nerves may remain inflamed for a few days, which can be painful.

Instrument Damage

Sometimes, during the procedure, the dentist may accidentally damage the tissue surrounding the affected tooth.

High Temporary Filling

The final step in the procedure is to seal the affected tooth with a dental filling. In most cases, a temporary filling will be used while you wait for your dental crown. If the filling is too high, you may bite down harder in that spot, which can cause pain.

Typically, sensitivity and discomfort associated with root canal treatment are easily controlled by OTC pain relievers and other home remedies and resolve within a few days after the procedure. You may also want to try some relaxation/meditation exercises such as tai chi, meditation, or yoga.

However, if you find that OTC and home remedies are not effective and the pain lasts for more than a week, you need to see the dentist.

Can Root Canal Treatment Fail?

According to the American Association of Endodontists, approximately 41,000 root canal treatments are performed every day. This means that more than 15 million are performed every year. This procedure has a 80% to 90% long-term success rate. This means there is a 10% to 20% risk of failure.

Root canal treatment failure can be extremely painful. There are several reasons this may happen:

  • Leaking restoration
  • Poor oral hygiene habits
  • Breakdown of the tooth/sealing material
  • Extra canal that the endodontist did not see/treat
  • Curved root that prevents complete cleaning/disinfecting
  • Vertical cracks
  • Inexperienced dentist/endodontist

If the pain is due to missing one of the roots or a curved root, re-treatment may be an option. On the other hand, if the tooth is cracked/fractured, extraction will likely be recommended. Patients who experience persistent infection or inflammation following root canal treatment, a surgical procedure known as root-end resection may be recommended.

When to Visit the Dentist

Dental pain is what caused you to seek root canal treatment in the first place. If you are still experiencing pain after the procedure, you may wonder if it was worth it.

This procedure is fairly extensive, so some post-procedure inflammation or pain is to be expected. However, this should only last for a few days and should be easily controlled with OTC or prescription pain relievers and home remedies.

Many patients need 2 sessions for the root canal treatment to be successful. If you have a severe infection or complex tooth, you may need more sessions. Persistent or recurring pain is an indication of this.

Once the tooth is fully treated, a dental crown will be needed to protect the tooth from further damage. Dental crowns are tooth-shaped caps made of gold, porcelain, metal, or composite resin. You may have some mild pain as you get used to the crown- but this should only last a few days.

Glow Up Dentistry can help you with your pain following root canal treatment. We also offer a variety of services to support your overall oral health.

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