How Can I Deal With Pain after a Root Canal?

Dentists use a root canal to remove the nerve and pulp of a tooth that has become diseased or infected.
A packet of naproxen sodium pills, which can help with pain from a root canal.
An ice pack can hep with pain and swelling from a root canal.
A heating pad and other applications of heat should not be applied to the jaw in the case of a root canal as it may promote bleeding.
Article Details
  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Dealing with pain after a root canal can be challenging; however, pain control can be achieved by taking an over-the-counter analgesic. Pain medications that can help include anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen sodium tablets, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. These preparations also help bring down swelling that often accompanies a root canal. In cases of extreme pain, a dentist may prescribe stronger painkilling medications.

Applying an ice pack to the side of the face can help reduce the pain after a root canal as well. The coldness from the ice can also help relieve swelling, but the ice should not be directly placed against bare skin because of the risk of frostbite. Although some might seek relief from applying a heating pad to the jaw, it is not recommended. Heat can cause tissue to swell and sometimes worsen pain. In addition, the application of a heating pad to the affected area might even promote bleeding.

Acetaminophen can also be taken after a root canal. This pain-relief medication is often preferred by people who cannot take anti-inflammatory medications because of stomach irritation. In addition, acetaminophen is usually the analgesic of choice for people who are taking blood thinners. Ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drugs can intensify the effect of blood thinners or anticoagulants and might cause heavy or abnormal bleeding.

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When pain after a root canal becomes severe or intolerable, the dentist might recommend prescription medications. This is most common when over-the-counter medications are not helping to relieve the pain. Certain types of prescription painkillers for a root canal contain codeine, and although highly efficient against pain, these medications can have dangerous side effects. Side effects of prescription pain medications can include pronounced drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, and confusion.

Prescription medication that contains codeine should only be taken if the pain cannot be managed by other means. In addition, if side effects do occur, the dentist should be immediately notified so he can recommend alternative treatment. Codeine-based medications are narcotics, and if taken in excess, or for prolonged periods of time, can cause dependence.

If pain after a root canal persists, the patient needs to notify his dentist, because he might have an infection. A tooth infection can cause severe pain, and when this occurs, antibiotics might need to be prescribed. After antibiotic therapy has begun, the patient may notice that his pain has decreased significantly. Although pain relief might be noticed after only one day of treatment, all antibiotics need to be consumed to make sure the infection and pain do not return.

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anon314229
Post 5

I had a recent root canal and was prescribed Keflex and pain killers. The pain is not getting better. I have been using ice packs. Can the ice pack slow down the antibiotic?

honeybees
Post 4

It took quite a few days for my daughter to feel better as she had several days of tooth pain after her root canal. When I found out she was putting heat packs on her jaw I told her that might be part of the problem.

Even though heat sounds more comforting than an ice pack, that is one of the worst things you can do. I told her to switch and start using an ice pack, and hoped she had not made everything worse.

I am glad this didn't cause any more bleeding, but she might have healed up a lot faster if she had used an ice pack instead of applying heat.

myharley
Post 3

After my root canal procedure the over-the-counter pain medications weren't cutting it for me. When I called my dentist about it he prescribed some acetaminophen that had codeine in it. This really took care of the pain and knocked me out so I also got some good sleep.

golf07
Post 2

I have had more than one root canal and I dread it when I have to have one done. I got an infection after a root canal the very first time. I know this can sometimes happen, but it made me very nervous when I was told I had to have a second one.

Thankfully I didn't get an infection the second time but it still wasn't any fun. I will say that taking some Aleve was much better than taking antibiotics to get rid of the infection though.

I don't really know what causes a root canal, but I just hope I am done with them for good. Of all the things I have been to the dentist for, this procedure as been the worst one.

sunshined
Post 1

The pain I experienced before I had a root canal done was worse than the pain I had after my root canal treatment. This pain came on suddenly when I was at a conference out of town. I had no idea it was a root canal, but was not able to get in to see my dentist for a couple of days.

I took pain killers to take the edge off, but I had a couple of sleepless nights. It was such a relief to have the problem taken care of, that the recovery process was no big deal for me. I took a couple of pain killers right away, but didn't need anything after that.

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