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Root Canal Therapy and Discomfort: What Patients Should Know

By Bruce Wilderman on November 06, 2017

How a root canal is performedThere's no getting around it: treating a root canal infection will result in pain for a patient. Thankfully the pain will not be as severe as some pop culture depictions, but it can be considerable for many patients. When patients come to our Philadelphia dental practice for root canal treatment (endodontic therapy), we want to make sure they have a good understanding of what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

With this in mind, an untreated root canal infection will be much more painful in the long run, causing serious problems with your health and wellness. That's why the discomfort of endodontic therapy is worth the temporary discomfort. Let's explore this issue in more detail below.

Discomfort During a Root Canal Procedure

While there may be mild discomfort during the actual root canal procedure, this should be minimal thanks to modern sedation, anesthetic, and pain management techniques and technology. Patients will usually be sedated while undergoing treatment, with local anesthetic used to help prevent severe pain during the procedure. Patients may experience some pressure during treatment, but the discomfort will be minor and manageable.

Discomfort After a Root Canal Procedure

For most patients, the most significant pain they experience comes after the root canal has been performed. After the pulp is removed and the tooth is filled with an inert material, the tooth is saved but is also "dead". The initial sensation around the tooth can be quite painful, lasting for a few days. As patients recover, the pain and discomfort will be far less severe, and they will be able to resume normal activities once again.

Take Pain Medication as Directed

Since the pain can be considerable in the first few days after a root canal, dentists often prescribe pain killers to patients. Take this medication as directed by your dentist, and do not exceed the dosage.

As the pain becomes more manageable, consider switching from the prescribed pain killers to over-the-counter pain relievers. Eventually, you should no longer have any need for pain medication.

Modify Your Diet Accordingly

After undergoing a root canal, the treated tooth and the area around the treated tooth will be extremely sensitive. You will likely have a temporary restoration in place on the treated tooth as well. Given these facts, you will want to modify your diet to prevent tooth sensitivity and painful pressure. Consider these tips:

  • Avoid Chewing on That Side of the Mouth – Since the treated tooth will be tender, try to avoid using it for a few days. This will protect you from pain and also ensure the temporary restoration is not harmed.

  • Eat Soft Foods – To help prevent causing any discomfort in the early days of recovery, try to stick with soft foods that do not leave a lot of crumbs. This minimizing pressure from chewing and also makes the mouth easier to clean and keep sanitary.

  • Avoid Foods/Beverages That Are Hot/Cold in Temperature – To avoid sudden, sharp instances of tooth sensitivity, be sure to only have foods and beverages that are room temperature. Extreme temperatures (hot tea, ice cream) can lead to major bouts of pain.

Contact Artistic Expressions Dentistry

For more information about root canal therapy and how it can help you experience improved health and wellness, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic and restorative dentist today. The team at Artistic Expressions Dentistry is here to help you smile with renewed confidence.

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