Pain After a Root Canal

Why Does My Tooth Hurt After a Root Canal?

One of the most important factors in having a great dental experience is having the appropriate expectations.  That’s why, at Empire Dental Specialty Group, we are committed to providing you with accurate, helpful information about your procedure!

There are many myths surrounding the dental procedure known as a “root canal”.  The technical term is root canal treatment, because the root canal itself is an anatomical feature of every tooth.  Many people mistakenly believe that a root canal treatment is an extremely painful or uncomfortable procedure.  We love proving people wrong in this case!

Another unfortunate myth, though, is the assumption that a patient will have zero pain immediately after the root canal procedure.  When patients believe this, they are setting themselves up for disappointment because the truth is that some pain and discomfort after the procedure is normal.

What Does a Root Canal Treatment Accomplish?

During a root canal treatment, your endodontist removes the nerves and blood vessels from the hollow chamber within a tooth.  This is necessary to remove tissue that is infected by bacteria, irreversibly damaged from trauma, or dead.  Your endodontist them cleans out the internal chamber of the tooth and seals it with a biocompatible filling material.

Eliminating the pain of a toothache is only one of the goals of a root canal treatment.  More importantly, it removes tissue that does not have the ability to heal itself.  When the inside of a tooth is unhealthy, there are only two ways to fix the problem: 1) remove the tissue via a root canal treatment, or 2) remove the tooth via extraction.

Why Does the Tooth Still Hurt After a Root Canal Treatment?

Now that you understand the root canal treatment process, this question makes sense.  Why does a tooth that no longer contains nerve tissue still hurt?

The answer is inflammation.

More specifically, the cause of pain after a root canal treatment is inflammation around the tooth.  The human body responds to infections and injuries with acute inflammation.  Even though there is no nerve inside the tooth to feel the pain of inflammation after a root canal treatment, there are many nerves around the tooth.

Inflammation around a tooth can cause a dull ache, a throbbing pain, or a sharp pain when there is pressure on the tooth (as in chewing).

The good news is that this inflammation is only temporary since you have already undergone the necessary treatment!

What Can I Do About Pain after a Root Canal Treatment?

The most important advice we have for pain management is to follow your doctor’s specific post-operative instructions as closely as possible!  The endodontist who performs your root canal treatment knows the intricate details of your tooth and what post-operative symptoms you are likely to experience.

It is important to take pain reliever medication before your anesthesia wears off.  We will often administer this in our office before dismissing the patient.  Studies show that it is easier to prevent pain from beginning than to alleviate it once it flares up.

We will also recommend a soft diet so that you do not chew on this tender area for several days.  The important thing to remember is to follow instructions that your doctor gives to you.

Root Canal Retreatment may be Necessary

In some cases, a root canal treatments are not 100% effective. If you are dealing with pain after your root canal procedure, contact our office to see if a root canal retreatment is needed. The pain and inflammation you are feeling may be an infection in the root that needs to be addressed quickly before symptoms become worse.

More Questions about Root Canals?

Contact Empire Dental Specialty Group and schedule an endodontic consultation with one of our wonderful root canal specialists.  We can answer any question you have about root canal treatments and provide a second opinion for a previous root canal procedure. Schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Beavercreek and West Chester.

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