Should I talk to my dentist if I still feel tooth pain after a root canal?

See your dentist as soon as possible after breaking a tooth. Some people avoid seeing their dentist if their broken tooth is not hurting them. This is not a good idea, because, over time, a tooth can break further or decay and then need more comprehensive treatment.

Protect your root canal tooth with a crown. Most teeth that have had root canal will require a crown or cap to rebuild and protect it. Unprotected teeth that have had root canal can break and may need to be removed.

Give your dentist your complete medical history. Make sure you give your dentist a complete medical history when you fill out the form, including all prescription and nonprescription medication you are taking. Make sure you tell your dentist of any change in your health since the last time you where in his or her office.

See your dentist at least twice a year, more if you have been diagnosed with gum disease. Many dental problems, like small cavities and gum disease, are painless. Missing dental appointments increase the likelihood of needing a root canal, crown, or gum treatment.

Prevent cavities by using fluoridated toothpaste. Most people are susceptible to cavities, and should use a fluoride containing toothpaste. I also recommend including a fluoride containing mouthwash or prescription strength fluoride gel for those especially cavity prone.

Avoid soda. Sodas, sweetened and unsweetened, are acidic and promote tooth decay.

Brush your teeth before bedtime. As we sleep, there is a reduction in the flow of tooth protecting saliva. Food left on your teeth overnight can contribute to tooth decay. I always recommend brushing after eating and before bed. 

Get a second opinion. If you have any doubts about the treatment your dentist is prescribing, get a second or even a third opinion. The more information you have, the better decision you will make.

Ask about alternative treatment options. In most cases, there is more than one way to treat a specific problem or set of problems. Make sure your dentist gives you all of your treatment options, and the pros, cons, and costs of each option.

Know what your dental insurance covers and does not cover. There are many different types of dental plans, and the amount of coverage varies from plan to plan, and from dental office to dental office. The more you know about your dental plan, the easier it will be when checking out at the front desk when your treatment is completed.
Stephen P. Simpson, DDS
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
Absolutely -- your dentist has the expertise and experience to determine if the discomfort is part of the normal healing process or if there are complications present. Generally your dentist will furnish you with information about the sort of sensations you should anticipate post-treatment, but there are often individual circumstances present that may lead to a variation in your response. Your dentist can assess your condition and make recommendations that may preclude the need for further intervention or minimize any additional treatment.
Some amount of soreness after a root canal is normal. However, if you are still experiencing a tooth ache or pain for longer than a few days, you should contact your dentist right away. You should also let your dentist know if you are feeling pressure around your tooth or in your jaw.
Some sensitivity can occur right after the tooth is worked on. However, if the pain persists or increases, then its a good idea to contact the dentist. Medication can often take the edge off a sensitive tooth.

Post-op discomfort can vary for each patient depending on the clinical condition of the tooth, nerve, and whether there is an active infection present. The goal of root canal therapy is to remove the source of the infection and/or symptoms and allow for the body to heal itself. There may be post-operative discomfort but this should improve over a short period of time. Any symptoms that persist should be evaluated by your dentist. 

Your dentist will usually let you know that some pain is normal. If your pain gets worse then you should contact your dentist. Otherwise with some antibiotics and pain medication the pain should get less and go away.
Some discomfort after having a root canal performed is not unusual. However if the pain persists or increases, contacting your dentist is the right thing to do.
Lucia Yau, DDS
Definitely. Communication between you and the dentist is very important. Individual perception of pain can be very different. Your dentist can help you determine whether the pain is a normal post operative pain or something that needs more attention.
Certainly, the continuing presence of pain after the root canal may indicate the continuing presence of infection that may need to be treated more aggressively. If it's not treated, it could lead to bigger problems for you.
Yes. Although some soreness is completely normal. It takes about 5 days to go away. A lot of times the root canal therapy disturbs the tooth and causes an inflammatory reaction that will require additional medication.
While post-operative discomfort following root canal therapy is common, there are times where it can become very uncomfortable. Call your dentist if pain is unbearable or unmanageable with medication. Sometimes a strong anti-inflammatory medication (steroid) can be given to help in these situations. If you had pain and swelling just prior to the root canal, then it's likely the pain will continue for a few days until the infection can be handled by the body's immune system.

If you have any concerns, you should call your dentist. We would much rather you call and discuss your condition and any possible remedies, rather than have you worry or even worse have a small problem develop into a bigger problem.

Yes, it is possible that the bite may need to be adjusted, you may need a prescription to heal things up or that something is going on with the root. Also remember that teeth in the molar region and premolar region usually need crowns over the root canaled tooth to preserve form and function of that tooth.
If you feel a concern about the discomfort you feel after root canal treatment then you should not hesitate to inform your dentist. Your dentist can reassure you if what you feel is within the normal range of post-op discomfort or if it needs to be addressed. This will not only help you feel better but it can also prevent it from getting worse if there is an issue that needs to be addressed.   

I would always recommend talking to your dentist if you have any concern whatsoever. The most important aspect of your relationship is two-way communication. That being said, it is normal to have mild/moderate discomfort after root canal treatment. I recommend taking 800mg ibuprofen every 8 hours for 3 days regardless of how you feel. If you are still experiencing anything unpleasant I would not hesitate to call and discuss with your dentist.

After root canal treatment, it is not uncommon for the patient to experience discomfort, or even pain that may last for several days. Usually, over the counter analgesics will be satisfactory to relieve the discomfort, assuming that you are permitted to take them. There are times, however when a prescription medication may be necessary. 

If the discomfort does not resolve, it is important to contact the dentist who performed your endo therapy so that the tooth and problem can be reevaluated.

An article in the current Journal of the American Dental Association stated that a recent study showed that "the incidence of all-cause ...persistent tooth pain....after endodontic procedures is 5 to 7 percent."
In my experience doing root canal therapy for nearly 40 years, most patients have some tenderness after treatment. Typically "mild soreness" possibly requiring over-the-counter medication such as ibuprophen or acetaminophen for a few days is enough to control the discomfort. Occasionally patients have no soreness at all -- the ideal response. And occasionally patients have more severe pain requiring a prescription pain medication for adequate control. All of these responses are within the normal range and do not indicate any problems that will affect a positive outcome. There are, however, problems that can occur even after ideal treatment. If you have swelling or pain that worsens as time passes, this may indicate residual infection in the bone and will need to be treated. In these instances you should definitely call your doctor. The bottom line is to trust your feelings. If you have any concerns you should talk to your doctor as he/she will be in the best position to advise you if any follow up is necessary.
Yes. Your dentist may need to evaluate the tooth or adjust your bite if the tooth is in contact with the opposing tooth which may be the cause of the pain.
If the tooth aches for more than 5 days after a root canal an antibiotic may be indicated to help treat the remaining infection under the tooth, so contact your dentist for help.
Yohan Kim, DMD
I absolutely recommend that you talk to your dentist.

The pain can come from the root canal or it can be from another tooth in the area which might have decay. Sometimes, after root canal depending on the size of the infection you had, you might have pain after root canal as long as 1-2 weeks. Whatever the reason is, if you avoid it, it will just create a bigger problem. If you find out that it is nothing that you need to worry about, you feel peace in your mind. I advise you talk to your dentist and find out why you are experiencing pain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.