Root Canal and Pain: What to Expect

General Dentistry - Implant Dentistry - Cosmetic Dentistry

Updated on Oct 11, 2023

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There are many oral health diseases that threaten your overall hygiene and good health. Some of them include deep tooth decay, cracks or fractures that may cause severe toothache, and abscess formation. While these issues may not be life-threatening, in extreme cases, there might be a need for an emergency root canal treatment.

Instead of tooth extraction, the doctor saves your tooth by making a minor opening on the upper part of the crown to gain access to the pulp the pulp has blood vessels and nerves, which can be infected by bacteria. Any infection is cleaned and disinfected to relieve pain, swelling, or discomfort. Once the procedure is done, the pulp is filled and crowned to restore the tooth’s appearance.

What Pain Should I Expect from an Emergency Root Canal Procedure?

Emergency or not, a root canal is no longer associated with excruciating pain, thanks to modern technology and equipment.

Before the dentist carries out the procedure, a local anesthetic is administered to numb the surrounding area. During the treatment, you may feel minimal discomfort due to the sensation from the equipment used to clean the pulp.

After the process, it is normal to experience mild to moderate discomfort, irritation, or soreness. In some cases, you may also develop bruising or swelling, which lasts up to three to five days; however, it is nothing debilitating.

To alleviate the pain, you can get over-the-counter medication. But if you are using supplements, or other medication, whether prescribed or not, it is important to check with your dentist before taking anything to avoid any complications.

When Should I Seek Follow-up Treatment?

A root canal has a high success rate, and over-the-counter medication should make any irritation disappear after three to five days. However, if you do experience the following symptoms, you should visit the dentist immediately:

  • Swelling or tenderness that doesn’t subside around the affected area
  • Teeth discoloration
  • Swollen facial area as well as neck and lymph nodes
  • If you have developed a dental abscess, i.e., puss pockets
  • Bad taste in your mouth or bad smell
  • Pain that lasts for a week or more after the root canal treatment.

Some of the reasons that may warrant retreatment are as follows:

Missed Canal

Every tooth has one to four canals filled with blood vessels that supply nutrients to the tooth. It is possible to have an infection in all the canals, and if the endodontist fails to clean the affected canals, the bacterial infection will continue as before the treatment.

Visiting a dentist again for a diagnosis of the pain will determine whether a missed canal is the source of discomfort, and if that is the case, they will have to redo the procedure.

Discomfort Caused by Crown or Filling

The opening on the crown is filled with some material to preserve the integrity of your tooth. However, the filling material may be so oversized that it causes discomfort.

If the size of the crown or filling material is still so uncomfortable that it hits the surrounding teeth, you can schedule a quick appointment to have it reduced to a normal, comfortable size.

Oral diseases are not catastrophic; however, if left untreated for a prolonged period, an emergency root canal may be necessary. This treatment is safe, alleviates soreness and infections, and saves your natural tooth. Any pain and discomfort after the process may be treated with over-the-counter medication, and if re-infection occurs, it is important to consult your dentist immediately.

Author Plate

Ellen Smythe is a Practice Manager at Smile Arts of NY, a dental office that provides the best care (including emergency treatments) and advanced modern cosmetic dental procedures like teeth whitening, porcelain crowns, veneers, Invisalign and dental implants. If you’re looking for the best services, including emergency root canal treatment, NYC-based Smile Arts have been helping New York City residents achieve the look they’ve always wanted with their state-of-the-art, affordable dental services since 2010.

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