Mandy Kloppers

Guide to Avoiding a Painful Root Canal

Many patients think of a root canal as an extremely painful procedure. A few years ago, this dental treatment had a bad reputation as one of the most dreadful and painful dental treatments one can go through.

Luckily, dentists have improved the process with better techniques, advanced aesthetics, and technology. Today, you feel little to no pain during the procedure.

Read on to learn how you can avoid a painful root canal.

Is Pain During a Root Canal Normal?

During root canal therapy, the endodontist cleans the infected or inflamed part of your tooth’s root. Then, they restore your tooth with a filling made of a crown or rubbery material.

Note that the procedure involves the removal of pretty sensitive material. So, you can expect some discomfort. The pulp has nerves and blood vessels that may be inflamed and sore due to infections. This leads to some pain during the cleaning process.

The good news is that dentists use anesthetics to avoid a painful root canal or at least control the pain while undertaking the procedure.

How Can You Avoid a Painful Root Canal?

A root canal is not a one-day procedure because it takes some time to heal. So, taking care of your tooth post-treatment is paramount to avoid more pain.

The anesthetic given by your endodontist at the start of your root canal helps numb pain around the treatment area during the procedure. After the anesthetic has worn off, it’s normal to experience some soreness. This comes in form of throbbing pain or a continuous ache.

Dealing with Post-Procedure Pain

After a root canal procedure, you’ll experience some pain, though mildly. This should last for a few days only. Since the pain and sensitivity are just mild, you only need over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Also, you may take a topical anesthetic.

It’s advisable to consult with your doctor before taking any of these medicines to avoid them interacting with other prescriptions or supplements you may be using.

Other ways to avoid root canal pain post-procedure include:

  • Avoid chewing hard and crunchy food for several days following the root canal because this may increase the pain and sensitivity.
  • Don’t take extremely cold or hot food and drinks.
  • Stick to proper dental hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing.
  • Follow instructions when taking any pain medication prescribed by your dentist.
  • Try soothing the sore area by rinsing with salt water. It also helps clear any bacteria in your mouth.
  • Avoid prodding or poking the affected tooth and its surrounding area.
  • Quit smoking.

When Does Root Canal Pain Fade Off

Although people have different tolerances for pain, most patients experience mild pain and sensitivity only a few days after a root canal procedure. The pain will not last long as long as you practice dental hygiene.

If the pain persists, it could signal everything is not okay. In such a case, contact your endodontist immediately. They will ask you to go back for a check-up or suggest a way to alleviate the pain.

Can a Tooth That Has Had a Root Canal Experience Pain?

During a successful root canal, it’s normal to experience some mild pain going even beyond the procedure. Luckily, the pain goes away within a few days, as long as you are a keen observer of your oral hygiene.

Sometimes, it’s possible for a tooth that has had a root canal in the past to have pain. This may be due to:

  • Prior root canal not healing well.
  • New decay infects the fill material used during the procedure, leading to a new infection.
  • Complicated root anatomy preventing complete root canal disinfection.
  • Tooth injury resulting in new tooth decay.

In such cases, endodontists recommend re-treatment. This means you’ll have to undergo another root canal.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a root canal candidate, don’t be paranoid. In fact,the American Association of Endodontists suggests that you’re likely to be free from pain six times more than someone who keeps off the procedure.

Of importance to note is that pre-treatment pain may be high but drops moderately during treatment. Meanwhile, post-treatment pain drops substantially, and you’ll be pain-free within a week.