Is Pain After a Root Canal Common? When Should One Seek Expert Help?

Most people associate a root canal procedure to be very painful and discomforting. However, while most people can expect slight discomfort during and after root canal treatment, excessive pain is not normal.

Modern technology and the use of anesthetics make this treatment quick, safe and usually pain-free, and a great way to help save the natural tooth.

However, to avoid the need for a root canal, anyone who has a toothache should see a dentist right away. This should help prevent any worsening infection, abscess formation, or spreading throughout the root system of the tooth.


Quick facts about root canal procedure:

  • This type of treatment will remove the diseased tissue (pulp) and preserve the rest of the tooth.
  • A person will be given an anesthetic before the procedure, so it is usually not more painful than a typical dental filling.
  • If a root canal fails, redoing the same can solve the problem.

Root Canal Procedure

How much pain too much pain?
If you can expect some discomfort while recovering from a root canal, how do you know if the pain you’re experiencing is a lot? There are some ways to tell. If you feel pain is so severe that you can’t resume your normal life, you should contact your dentist. Sometimes complications may develop after a root canal. You might feel extreme pain because the treatment does not completely eliminate bacteria or the origin of infection. A problem with the fill or a small crack in the tooth can be the cause of the problem.

Contact your dentist or endodontist immediately if severe pain persists even several days after the root canal. Even if the pain disappeared, it is best to visit your dentist a few days or the following week to confirm if everything seems fine.

You may need endodontic re-treatment to relieve pain and preserve the tooth. Repetition of treatment is sufficient to relieve pain and discomfort in most cases, but there are cases where the best option is to extract the tooth. Your dentist can fully explain the pros and cons of each option and suggest the best choice for you.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Root Canal Failure?
Once a root canal procedure is complete you must allow the tooth to recover from infection or inflammation for it to return to normal functioning. Signs and symptoms of an unsuccessful root canal therapy do not include sensitivity to cold or heat, swelling and/or pain while chewing. Follow-up with the dentist or endodontist is essential to determine further treatment to resolve symptoms.

Understand that a successful root canal treatment can cause mild pain for a few days. This is temporary and should disappear eventually as long as you practice good oral hygiene. You should consult your dentist to monitor if the pain lasts more than three days.

An alternative to a root canal is tooth extraction, in which the dentist can replace a damaged tooth with a bridge, partial denture or implant. This could be an expensive treatment and usually require several visits to your doctor.

If you’ve undergone root canal treatment then the pain should subside over time. According to the American Association of Endodontics, you are six times more likely to be free of pain than someone who chooses not to have a root canal.

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