Out of all the questions your family dentist or root canal specialist gets about root canals, probably this one is the most common: Does a root canal hurt? The answer, which may surprise you, is no. Root canals are generally performed in order to relieve tooth pain (although root canals may also be needed in teeth that are not causing pain), and pain after root canal treatment is not common.

While it’s best to keep up with dental health so that you never need a root canal, root canals are actually good procedures in that they’re used to save teeth that might otherwise need to be extracted.

While you shouldn’t experience pain after root canal treatment, there are a few things you should know in order to support the post-op success of your root canal:


  • Wait for Numbness to Abate
    You should find after the procedure that your symptoms have abated. But before you celebrate by eating a big, juicy steak, remember that you need to let your anesthetic wear off before eating. You could bite your cheek or otherwise damage your mouth unknowingly. Your dentist will also give you guidelines on what you can eat and when.

  • Some Tenderness Is Normal
    It’s completely normal after the treatment to feel tenderness around the tooth or when opening and closing your jaw. This should be easily treated with over-the-counter pain medication. If you have pain after root canal treatment that persists for more than a few days or you feel is too severe to be treated OTC, you should contact your dentist.

  • Visible Swelling Is a Bad Sign
    If you can actually see swelling in your mouth, call us at (415) 986-6900 or email us at You could have a post-root canal infection. Swelling, as well as itching or hives, can also be caused by an allergic reaction to an anesthetic or medication.

  • Root Canals Require Follow-Up
    Normally, a temporary barrier is put on your tooth after a root canal. But this needs to be replaced by a permanent filling or crown in order to preserve the health of the tooth. Before your procedure, make sure you’re clear on all the necessary follow-up appointments.

  • You Still Need to Brush
    You should brush and floss normally after a root canal unless your dentist specifically gives you differing care instructions.



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