Root Canal Pain – What to Expect and How to Manage It?

root canal pain macquarie

Many people mistakenly think that the root canal procedure is painful whereas, in reality, this is far from true. Clinically referred to as endodontics, The therapy relieves any root canal pain and saves a tooth from extraction.

Those are generally needed to treat a cracked tooth from an injury, issues from a previous filling, or a deep cavity. Generally speaking, patients need it when their teeth become sensitive for prolonged periods to hot and cold temperatures after the sensation has been removed.

Other signs you may need root canal treatment include:

  • Pimples on the gums
  • Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums
  • Severe toothache pain when chewing or applying pressure
  • Darkening or discolouration of the tooth

Why is root canal therapy performed?

Inside a tooth lies a series of nerves and blood vessels that collectively are referred to as ‘pulp’. If a tooth is damaged or decayed, bacteria can access the pulp causing infection that may spread into the surrounding tissues causing a painful abscess. While antibiotics will relieve the pain they can’t however, eliminate the source of the infection.

Reasons for Root Canal Therapy

  1. Infection or Inflammation:
    • When the pulp, which contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue, becomes infected or inflamed, it causes severe pain and discomfort. Root canal therapy helps to eliminate the infection and alleviate pain.
  2. Deep Decay:
    • Extensive tooth decay that reaches the inner pulp can lead to infection and severe pain. Root canal treatment removes the decayed tissue, preventing the infection from spreading further.
  3. Trauma or Injury:
    • Physical trauma or injury to a tooth can damage the pulp, leading to inflammation or infection. Root canal therapy helps in salvaging the tooth by removing the damaged pulp.
  4. Abscess Formation:
    • If the infection within the tooth pulp is left untreated, it can form an abscess at the tooth’s root tip. Root canal treatment removes the infected tissue, preventing abscess formation and further complications.
  5. Preservation of the Tooth:
    • Root canal therapy is often performed as an alternative to tooth extraction. It aims to save the natural tooth, maintaining its function and preventing the need for tooth replacement options like dental implants or bridges.

By addressing the issues within the tooth’s pulp, root canal therapy not only alleviates pain but also helps in preserving the natural tooth structure, restoring function, and promoting overall oral health.

About the procedure of it

There’s no need to feel anxious if your dentist recommends a root canal treatment to treat a disease or damaged tooth.

Modern procedure is very similar to a routine tooth filling and depending on your unique circumstances and the condition of the tooth, the process can usually be completed within one or two relatively short visits.

The treatment itself is a comfortable and effective treatment that will relieve pain and make your tooth healthy once more. In no time at all, you’ll be back to smiling, biting and chewing your food with ease.

In truth, once a tooth becomes infected it can only be saved by removing the tooth nerve. It treats the infected pulp, prevents reinfection, and preserves the rest of the tooth.

Steps in a Root Canal Procedure

  1. Assessment and X-rays:
    • The dentist examines the tooth and takes X-rays to assess the extent of damage and determine if a root canal is necessary.
  2. Anesthesia:
    • Local anesthesia is administered to numb the area around the affected tooth, ensuring the patient feels little to no discomfort during the procedure.
  3. Isolation of the Tooth:
    • A rubber dam or a dental sheet is placed around the tooth to keep it clean and dry during the procedure, preventing saliva from entering the treated area.
  4. Creating Access:
    • A small opening is made in the crown of the tooth to access the pulp chamber and root canals.
  5. Removing Infected Tissue:
    • The dentist carefully removes the infected or damaged pulp tissue, including nerves, blood vessels, and debris, from the pulp chamber and root canals using specialized tools.
  6. Cleaning and Shaping:
    • The interior of the tooth, including the pulp chamber and canals, is thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and shaped using small files to ensure the removal of any remaining infected tissue and to prepare the space for filling.
  7. Filling the Canals:
    • The cleaned and shaped root canals are filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha to seal the space and prevent further infection. Adhesive cement may also be used to secure the filling in place.
  8. Sealing the Tooth:
    • The access opening in the tooth’s crown is sealed with a temporary or permanent filling material to prevent contamination.
  9. Restoration:
    • In some cases, a crown or filling is placed on top of the treated tooth to restore its strength, function, and appearance. This step might occur in a separate visit after the root canal procedure is completed.
  10. Follow-up Visits:
    • The dentist may schedule follow-up appointments to monitor the tooth’s healing and ensure the absence of infection or complications.

A successfully performed root canal can relieve pain, save the natural tooth, and restore normal tooth function. It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene practices and attend regular dental check-ups to ensure the treated tooth remains healthy.-

So What’s involved in the procedure?

Having established that you do indeed need the therapy a local anaesthetic will be administered to the affected area eliminating any root canal pain during the procedure by numbing the mouth.

The root canals are carefully inspected and cleaned using a succession of small files until the tooth is clean.


Antibacterial medicine may also be inserted into the disease area to kill the infection. A follow-up appointment will be necessary to check that the medication is working. Once satisfied with the results, the dentist will use a crown to permanently secure the tooth and restore its structure and function. Saving a tooth with root canal therapy has many advantages:

  • Normal biting force and sensation
  • Efficient chewing
  • Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain
  • Natural appearance

How to manage pain after the treatment?   

Like all surgeries, there is a risk of pain after the procedure once the effects of the anaesthetic wear off.

The infection may have irritated the surrounding gums before the root canal procedure, so there may still be some inflammation and swelling in the gums. You may also feel an element of discomfort in the treated tooth.

Tips to ease pain after root canal treatment

To ease any pain and discomfort we recommend patients take over the counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen that also help to reduce any swelling and inflammation. If these don’t do the trick, then we can always prescribe stronger pain relief or a course of antibiotics. Rinsing your mouth several times a day for the first few days with warm salty water will also help soothe the pain and keep infection at bay.

For a few days at least, your tooth may still be sensitive so it’s best to avoid particularly hot or cold food or beverages and steer clear of any hard foods. Yoghurts, smoothies, soft fruit, and porridge, and soup are all excellent food choices while you’re recovering.

Placing an ice pack on the outside of your jaw periodically for the first 24 hours after root canal therapy will also help reduce the swelling and encourage the site to heal.

If your root canal was closed with a temporary filling while the infection cleared and the dentist failed to file it down sufficiently, you may also experience some discomfort when biting down. Don’t worry, our dentist can easily file down the high filling and recheck your bite to resolve the issue.

So there you have it, everything you need to know about its pain and how to manage it after endodontic treatment.

If you are in discomfort and suspect that you may need root canal treatment then then talk to Macquarie Dental for timely guidance.

Disclaimer: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner