Root Canal Pain

Root Canal Pain: During and After

Root canal pain and recovery time can vary greatly from person to person. These things are dependent on several factors.

One of the variables that can affect how much pain you’ll experience from your root canal is which tooth is getting worked on. Molars often have multiple canals  - which means more pain and longer recuperation. With a single canal on a front tooth, a root canal procedure can be performed in 30 minutes. However, with multiple canals and other possible complications, the procedure can take up to an hour and a half.

Each individual person perceives pain differently, which gives us varying abilities to withstand it. If you are someone who has a high tolerance for pain, a root canal probably won’t seem that bad for you.

Anatomy of a Root Canal

A root canal is a fairly simple and safe procedure. It can be done right in your dentist’s office and you probably won’t have to be sedated.

First, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic (most likely Novocain) in your gums to numb the area where he or she will be working. Don’t panic when you see the needle; it is very thin and usually only feels like a slight pinch. Shortly after receiving your Novocain shot, you should feel a tingling in your mouth and tongue. Soon, a large area of your mouth will be completely numb. The dentist will ask you some questions to make sure that the anesthetic has taken effect before beginning the root canal.

While the anesthetic is kicking in, a rubber dam will be placed around the tooth. This aids in keeping the area as clean as possible during the procedure.

The dentist will then use a drill to bore into the tooth and access the nerve tissue deep inside. You may feel uncomfortable during this, but shouldn’t feel any serious pain.

Once a channel to the nerve area has been created, the dentist will begin to clean the area meticulously. Files and irrigation will be employed to do this.

After the area has been cleaned exhaustively, filling material will be placed in the canal. Sometimes a temporary filling will be placed first, followed by a more permanent substance on a subsequent visit

Aftercare and Pain Management

Taking care of your mouth properly after a root canal is a very important factor in determining how much pain you’ll have as a result.
It’s inevitable that there will be some degree of pain or discomfort as you recuperate from your root canal procedure. Try ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation.


Avoid eating very sticky or hard foods, especially in the first days following treatment. This is especially important if you only have a temporary cap on the tooth, since those can come out easily.

Your discomfort shouldn’t last more than a few days for a routine root canal. Your dentist can prescribe pain medication if over the counter meds aren’t sufficient.

Ease pain and aid in infection prevention by rinsing with salt water. Your dentist may prescribe a medical grade mouthwash for this purpose.

While rare, complications can result from a root canal. Severe pain and inflammation can be indicative of infection in the area. This can lead to abscess and worse problems. If you think you might have an infection, get in to see your dentist right away.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, go to a hospital immediately.

A root canal is a common procedure that can help restore your mouth to health. If you are worried about root canal pain, discuss it with your dentist so you can work together to figure out the best pain management strategy for you.