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How to Treat Root Canal Pain

What is a root canal? Well, a root canal is dental procedure that is used to remove inflamed, infected, and/or diseased pulp (the soft tissue inside of your teeth). The pulp contains hundreds of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. During a root canal, your dentist or endodontist (a dentist who treats problems inside of you tooth) removes the damaged pulp from tooth. The chamber of the pulp and the canal of your tooth’s root are then cleaned, and sealed with a filling or crown. It is important to point out that if the damaged pulp is not removed, you may experience inflammation (swelling), tenderness, and pain. In severe cases, your tooth may have to be removed to prevent the infection or disease from spreading throughout your body. Thankfully, most modern root canal therapies (treatments) do not result in moderate or severe pain.

Do not be alarmed if you experience some degree of inflammation (swelling) and discomfort, following the therapy. These side-effects should subside within a couple of days. Refrain from chewing or grinding teeth on the root canal side of your mouth. Chewing on the treated tooth can trigger jaw pain, tenderness, and swelling. In addition, pressure on the treated tooth can crack or damage your filling or crown. If you are wondering how to treat root canal pain, you have come to the right place. This article will provide you with suggestions that will help relieve pain and discomfort, following root canal therapy.


Listed below are safe and effective ways to ease root canal pain:





It is not uncommon to experience some degree of pain and discomfort, following root canal therapy. Most dentists and endodontists recommend taking a double dose of ibuprofen to ease post-root canal pain and inflammation.  Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen not only provide pain relief, they also reduce swelling around your gums. If ibuprofen does not relieve your pain and discomfort, contact your dentist or endodontist for a prescription-strength painkiller.





Another remedy for post-root canal pain and discomfort is Orajel. Orajel is an over-the-counter benzocaine topical gel that temporarily numbs your gums, nerves, and inflamed tissues in the treated area.


Cold Compress


An old, but effective remedy for root canal pain and swelling is a cold compress. As soon as you return home, place a cold compress, a cold washcloth, or a bad of ice or veggies, on your cheek (on the treatment area side). The coolness will reduce the swelling, and ease your pain. Leave the compress or ice on the treated area for at least 5 minutes. If the pain and swelling remain, or come back, repeat this process every 15 minutes, until your discomfort subsides.


Soft, Bland Foods


One of the best ways to treat root canal pain is to eat soft, bland foods. For the first few days following root canal therapy, stick to soft foods. Why? Well, pressure from hard, crunchy foods may irritate your gums and nerves, and intensify your pain.


Salt Water


Approximately 12 hours after your root canal treatment, mix 1 teaspoon of salt in a warm cup of water. Mix the salt in the water, and swish the salty water in your mouth for 1 minute. The salty water not only soothes inflamed and irritated gums and cheek tissues, it also reduces inflammation (swelling), and lowers your risk of bacterial infections at the treatment site. Repeat this process at least 3 to 4 times a day until your pain and discomfort subsides.


Pillow Elevation


Lastly, you can ease root canal pain by elevating your pillow and/or the head of your bed, before going to sleep. Elevating your pillow not only helps reduce or prevent bleeding from the treatment site, it also relieves painful gum and nerve throbbing.





American Dental Association. (2014). Root canals. Healthy Mouths. Retrieved from


WebMD. (2014). Dental health and root canals. Retrieved from

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