People often hear the words “root canal” and immediately wince because they associate this dental treatment with pain. Thanks to modern dental technology, though, root canal therapy isn’t any more uncomfortable than getting a cavity filled. That being said, your mouth might feel a bit sore for a few days after the procedure. Keep reading to learn what you can expect after getting a root canal.
How Much Pain Is Normal After a Root Canal?
While the root canal procedure itself shouldn’t hurt, you’ll likely experience some discomfort once the numbness wears off. To cut down on this initial soreness and tenderness, it may help to take an over-the-counter pain medication (such as ibuprofen) as soon as you get home. That way, it will start to take effect by the time your mouth regains feeling.
The infection that was in your tooth, and the procedure that removed it, will most likely have caused inflammation, swelling, and general discomfort in the area. Keep in mind, though, that these symptoms should only be temporary. In general, you can expect the pain to subside a little bit each day as your mouth heals.
Tips for Managing Post-Root Canal Pain
Your dentist might prescribe pain relievers to take after your procedure, or they may recommend over-the-counter options. Either way, be sure to take these medications only as directed on the label or by your dentist.
In addition to painkillers, cold compresses can work wonders for relieving oral pain and swelling. Hold one to the outside of your cheek for 10 minutes at a time, then remove it for at least 10 minutes before reapplying the compress.
Keeping your mouth clean is also essential during the healing process. Luckily, rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution can disinfect your mouth and mitigate pain at the same time. Dissolve half a teaspoon of table salt into an eight-ounce glass of water. Then, swish the solution around in your mouth before spitting it out. Repeating this process a few times a day can reduce the bacteria in your mouth and soothe irritated tissues.
When to Call Your Dentist
Most root canal patients end up making a smooth recovery, but there’s still a small chance that complications may occur. For example, some of the infection may have been left behind, which could further damage your tooth. To keep your smile as safe as possible, contact your dentist immediately if:
- Your pain medications are not working.
- Your pain intensifies instead of subsiding after two days.
- The area is becoming increasingly swollen.
- You’re experiencing signs of an infection, such as fever or fatigue.
Root canal therapy is a fairly standard procedure that can heal your tooth and prevent it from needing an extraction. If you have any questions about this treatment, feel free to call your dentist!
About the Author
Dr. Larisa Strelkov is an experienced endodontist at The Dentists of Newtown, which provides comprehensive dental care to families in the Newtown, PA area. Dr. Strelkov earned her dental doctorate from Temple University’s Dental School in 1995, where she also earned her endodontics certification four years later. She keeps up with the latest dental techniques to ensure your root canal treatment is as comfortable as possible. To learn more about what to expect following a root canal, visit her website.