We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Are Root Canals Painful?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Root canals sound like they would be quite painful. The dentist or endodontist must go into the root, or roots, of the tooth in order to extract diseased or infected tissue and drain abscesses. Many people are in pain prior to getting this dental procedure done because of the infection in the roots of the tooth. The pulpy matter in the root contains nerves and blood vessels that do not respond kindly to pressure. With modern anesthesia, most patients report that root canals are not any more painful than having a tooth filled.

Some people may experience pain while having a root canal, and a few different things can cause this. If the area around the tooth is not properly anesthetized, the patient may feel some of the work being done. Someone who is undergoing the procedure should stop the dentist if he or she is feeling pain, since normally another application of local anesthetic can fix the problem.

People who fear dentistry often have a higher expectation of pain from dental procedures. This fear and anxiety can cause increased pain sensitivity. Dentists can address this in a number of ways, and nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, often helps patients relax so that procedures can be done with ease.

A person with extreme anxiety may also benefit from prescription benzodiazepines like Valium® or Xanax®. Some medical professionals also offer sleeping dentistry, where the patient is given anesthetic that produces near unconsciousness. This can help the most nervous patient survive a root canal with very minimal pain.

Some people experience pain during root canals because of problems associated with their jaws, especially the thermandibular joint. In some cases, people have trouble with popping, clicking, or with the jaw locking. Patients who are aware of this issue prior to getting dental work can discuss their options with the dentist, but they should expect a little bit of jaw soreness after all dental procedures.

After a root canal has been completed, many report some minor pain for a few days, and it is not uncommon to have the tooth feel a bit tender. This can usually be addressed with over-the-counter pain relief medications like ibuprofen, which reduces swelling. It may also help the jaw joint feel more comfortable. Patients should ask a medical professional if ibuprofen or other pain relievers will interfere with other medical conditions or medications. Some patients report relief from pain, especially if an infected tooth was particularly troublesome.

Those with a low pain tolerance may find more relief by taking a mild prescription of codeine or other narcotics after root canals. Dentists can prescribe these medications if previous dental procedures have been poorly tolerated. With medications like codeine, the patient must be certain to take them on a full stomach, or a very upset stomach may be added to the mouth pain.

If pain continues and is not helped by medications, the patient should contact his or her dentist. Sometimes, a root is very narrow and a bit of infection is missed, or there might be an infection elsewhere near the tooth. Severe pain is an indication that something is not right, and the problem should be addressed quickly.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon990816 — On May 11, 2015

Root canals are not bad as long as they are done on an uninfected tooth. If you catch them before they are hurting then it doesn't hurt.

My first tooth was a molar and I kept waiting for the pain. I had it done at a dental school in about four steps and even though it was a student it never hurt.

Fast forward about five years and at 20 I was in a car accident and my front tooth got cracked and infected. Honestly it was the worst pain I have had in my life. I have given birth without any pain medicine and this was much much worse. Later on I had uninfected teeth done and no pain.

Today I am not as lucky I have an infected molar that is having a root canal done and at this point I would glad pull it out myself with a pliers. I am near tears and the anesthesia is just starting to wear off. My suggestion if a filling is real deep, and the dentist gives you the option go ahead and get a root canal. Also if the tooth starts to be sensitive to cold, get in and get it fixed

By anon938504 — On Mar 09, 2014

I had my first root canal about five years ago, and it wasn't that painful, but the second root canal that I had yesterday was excruciatingly painful. I started crying in the dentist's chair, and believe me, I'm not normally a crybaby. So, to sum it up, you never know how painful it's going to be - hope for the best.

I go back for the second part of the root canal in a week and am trying to be positive about it. Wishing all the best.

By anon332392 — On Apr 28, 2013

I've had six root canals treatments done over the years. Five were done by general dentists (all different) and one by an Endodontist for a severely infected and cracked tooth. That root canal was the best one that I had! The only root canal that hurt badly afterward was the one in the front top tooth, but that was 25 years go and thank God, dentistry has improved greatly.

The dentist back then didn't finish the job in one visit and pus and gas from bacteria built up in the root. I thought I would die from the pressure and pain in the tooth. I called the dentist and he told me to pop the temporary filling with a pin to release the pressure. I did that and all gas and pus came out! It helped for few hours but then I was dying again from pain!

I then went back to him two days later (because it was the weekend), and he finished the job. Pain was gone. That was the last time I ever had pain from root canal. I will never let a dentist do a root canal in stages rather than one visit ever again!

The Endodontist told me it is absolutely unnecessary to have a root canal done in stages (other than to go from a temporary to permanent filling). I just had my sixth root canal treatment done three days ago. It was a back molar, second from the back upper side. The three roots were very long and narrow. Unfortunately, a file broke off in my root and the dentist was unable to get it out. Look that up on the internet (it happens about 10 percent of all root canals!)

I now have a broken file in my tooth and a slight (very slight)aching in the tooth when biting. I don't need any pain relievers yet, but I do take ibuprofen to prevent swelling and inflammation just in case. The dentist told me about the mishap and showed me that the Gutta Percha completely covered and passed around the broken file piece on the x ray. Now I am worried that the slight ache won't go away or will get worse. Then I will have to go to a specialist to get it redone and hopefully they can remove the broken file piece. Maybe I will lose the tooth!

Anyway, the sad part is that the tooth didn't even hurt at the time of the procedure. The root was slowly showing signs of dying on and off and the tooth felt fine at the time of the procedure. The dentist convinced me not to wait until the tooth got real bad. Now it aches ever so slightly. Hopefully it is only because the dentist was digging around that root for an eternity trying to get out his broken file!

From now on, I will wait until there is clearly a need for a root canal treatment with no other choice other than extraction. I will never be proactive with a root canal treatment ever again. Root canal treatments should never be taken lightly as "just a simple procedure."

Maybe tomorrow I will go back to him so he can slightly file the tooth down just to take pressure off of where it hits my other teeth when I bite down. I'm ticked off!

By anon327781 — On Mar 30, 2013

I had a root canal done three years ago. I had some pain after the procedure (all done in one go), but the worst part was the pain during the procedure. Frankly, words can't describe the extreme pain that comes from a raw nerve being plucked out. I'm the odd one out to have pain during the procedure but not get any more anesthetic.

By anon322154 — On Feb 26, 2013

I have just had root canal surgery yesterday and was not looking forward to it.

But my worry was not warranted. I had a completely painless injection which numbed my mouth and the rest of the treatment was so boring I can't tell you. There was no pain, but some vibration from drill. Filing the canal was fine. I had no pain, just a rubbing feeling and then they filled it in.

I had absolutely no pain throughout the whole process.

By anon311290 — On Dec 31, 2012

In my experience with root canals (11 in total), the only ones which were painful were the ones done by professional endodontists on front teeth. The severe/acute pain lasted about four hours and then reduced to moderate, with mild being the next day until fully settled, which can take ages. A bottle of freezing water and lots of pain relief (taken only as per dosage) is the key.

By anon311236 — On Dec 30, 2012

Sometimes they are extremely painful afterwards, but most of the time the tooth will only feel relief. Sometimes a root canal will fail. If 95 percent are successful, then 5 percent are not and one never knows in advance who will be part of the 5 percent.

I've had several root canals in my life. The current one is excruciatingly painful, presumably because it's a holiday weekend. Thankfully my dentist called in another prescription painkiller as the first one ran out several days ahead of "schedule". I am taking two Vicodin and 800 mg Ibuprofen every two to four hours with only enough relief to prevent me from going to the ER but if this script runs out before Wednesday, I'll be going there. I'm also using ice packs on my face and keeping my teeth from touching the ones below. Looks like this time the odds weren't in my favor. That's all. Sometimes all one can do is grin and bear it.

By anon298547 — On Oct 20, 2012

Please don't panic about a root canal! I spent years suffering pain in silence because I have a phobia of dentists. Last night, something happened. The pain became throbbing and unbearable and I didn't sleep at all. I took the plunge and called for an emergency appointment.

When I arrived in the waiting area, I'd resigned myself to an extraction. The pain was so great I was convinced it was the dreaded abscess. When I went into the room the tears rolled before I even sat in the chair.

The dentist freaked at the severity of my phobia. He hadn't even looked in my mouth. Anyway, I sat in the chair and he had a look. He couldn't see a problem so he did an X-ray. When it came back, he said the tooth was rotten and extraction was the only real option considering my fear of treatment. Then he offered me the chance to consider a root canal.

My first reaction was "just rip it out I want this over" but when I thought about it, I really didn't want to lose a tooth. He said a root canal was an involved and lengthy process because it was an upper back molar. It would be done over two sessions.

I can honestly say I felt nothing. A scratch for the anesthetic. Then total pain relief within 10 mins. Minimal noise, smells and discomfort. The tooth was emptied out and Chlorhexidine stuff put in and a temporary filling put in place. The anesthetic wore off four hours later and I've taken paracetamol and four ibuprofen hourly just in case there's pain.

But I feel nothing. It's great. It's the first time in years and it's so liberating. I'm feeling on top of the world -- and I'm a phobic of dentists.

I can honestly say I cannot wait for the treatment to be completed. I've had the main nerve removed so far and two root nerves have to be done next. Please, don't fear the treatment. Medicine is advancing so tremendously. My only advice to my UK readers is don't let the dentist fob you off and tell you extraction is the only option. It's the easy way out. For them. But once, it's gone, it's gone. That tooth can last the rest of your life with the help of a compassionate dentist committed to delivering quality patient care.

Good luck all folks undergoing a root canal. It really isn't that bad. If I can do it, so can you.

By anon290507 — On Sep 09, 2012

I had my first root canal on tooth no. 13 in April of 2011. I had had a deep cavity filled in this tooth in March and the tooth never stopped throbbing. The first root canal decreased the pain but it returned in full force. The tooth was re-treated in August 2011. The pain was incredible after that. It was like a jack hammer. I wanted to die. I was on motrin for six months as the dentists said give it time. They kept saying it would calm down. So, the pain went away in Jan. 2012 until June, when it recurred.

I went to a another dentist, a periodontist, in August who flat out told me that for whatever reason this was a failed root canal. Thank you for truthful dentists. I made an appointment with an oral surgeon who took the tooth out and said the tooth was badly infected. The tooth stunk, for god's sake! Leaving an infected dead tooth in like this is dangerous! There were at least two lateral canals in this tooth the endodontist could not have seen with his microscope.

I am not a fan of root canals now, to say the least. I have read they have a 95 percent success rate, but cannot believe it is this high. Beware and listen to your pain. Seek other opinions. Your pain should go away within a short period of time. If it doesn't, the root canal may have failed for whatever reason. Don't keep trying to save the tooth because your dentist tells you to be patient. Be patient up to a point. Do what is best for your mouth.

By anon290201 — On Sep 07, 2012

I had unbelievable and indescribable pain when I had the first part of a deep root canal done. I didn't worry much as I'd had a deep root canal done before and had no pain afterward. This time around, I'm not so lucky. Once the anesthetic wore off, I was in more pain than I was when I went in the first place. Hopefully, the antibiotics will work soon. I was not expecting this.

By debrajill — On Jun 28, 2012

I feel for all of you. I just got home following a root canal on a tooth which has died, post removal of a bridge and a temporary fitting. I was in pain for 3 1/2 weeks before it was done and they put me on antibiotics. I had one two months ago on a previously root canalled tooth which was not done properly and got a Phoenix abscess, which was worse than giving birth.

My pain today is ridiculous. I had four injections which wore off after half an hour. Now I'm in agony and taking too much ibuprofen and paracetamol. I can relate to those of you who would like morphine or similar. I have had ice on my face, and I'm at the end of my tether, totally. I can't close my mouth, and I'm so fed up. I have also cried!

By anon277090 — On Jun 28, 2012

I had two root canals done in January. Now, almost seven months later, I am still in agonizing pain. During both treatments, the dentist kept my mouth open with a dental dam for over two hours. I now suffer from TMJ and my disc has slipped. Morphine and percocet just barely help me get through the day. I don't want to be on pills anymore. Do you think I can sue the dentist for causing all this? Please let me know what you think.

By anon274887 — On Jun 14, 2012

I had a root canal done 30 years ago. Last May I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Last week I had the root canal removed. My dentist said there was terrible infection in the area even though nothing showed up on the x-rays.

I have always been very healthy including my teeth. (I'm a former dental professional). I believe the root canal caused my cancer because genetic testing was negative. That bacterial infection would cause any number of health problems eventually. Let's wise up out there!

By anon272868 — On Jun 04, 2012

Root canals have earned a reputation for being painful and uncomfortable. In the past, this may have been true but due to improvements in anesthetic injection technique and the development of sedation dentistry, a root canal should not be any more uncomfortable than any other dental procedure such as a filling.

By anon271117 — On May 25, 2012

I had my first root canal done two weeks ago. The pain from the shot was not as bad as people said it would be and I didn't feel anything during the root canal. However, after about two hours of getting back home, the pain kicked in and I was crying like a little baby.

I called the dentist the next day and he said it was normal, to give it a few days. Three days later on a Monday, I called him back. I have not slept more than an hour at a time in two full weeks. I wake up crying in pain every hour. I went back to the dentist, and he said he didn't get it all out and that it needed to be done again.

I went back yesterday which was two weeks from the first time and had it done the second time. The pain shot this time was unbearable! It hurt so bad! And I have been in a lot of pain still. That's why I am up right now at 3:30 a.m. and that's how I found this topic, to see if others are having my problems. I have been prescribed four lorcet, 10 mg per day and 50mg demerol every six hours. However it only takes about two hours before the pain starts back and I have to take more pain killers.

I will never have another root canal done again. I was already terrified of the dentist and now I'm never going back! And yes, I have way more pain now than what I did when I first went to him.

By anon270807 — On May 23, 2012

I need a root canal and crown on a back molar. Has anyone in the UK had similar recently and can give me an idea of costs? I am currently living overseas and am unsure as to whether to get this done while back in the UK over summer or here. I need some cost comparisons.

By anon254494 — On Mar 13, 2012

I must have been to a really good endodontic dentist, because during and after the root canal I have not had any pain.

This was my no. 2 tooth, the back right upper molar. I went back to work right after the procedure and have only been taking advil, to make sure there is no swelling. I had the procedure done yesterday. I did not have laughing gas and was not put under. I just had anesthesia applied to the tooth gum and the upper roof of the mouth.

By anon247684 — On Feb 14, 2012

Sometimes if you put ice on your face (not in your mouth on your cheek) you can calm the nerve down and relieve some of the pain.

By anon243818 — On Jan 30, 2012

Never, ever, ever again. Thirteen months after the so-called start of the root canal, the dentist put a sedative in and cap on and made me worse than the toothache had before. I'm left with a condition and you would never believe the symptoms.

What I can't work out is why have one when in the end you have so much pain and are left with a living hell. Root canals have damaged my health and life and guess what? The dentist disappeared and the way I was treated and lied to was beyond belief. Ban the things; they kill you.

By anon210188 — On Aug 29, 2011

If you have pain in your teeth, gums, jaw, under your ear swollen painful glands, pain in your ear, before or especially longer than a week after your root canal, you need to go to a neurologist and ask to be tested for trigeminal neuraliga, and tell him about any dental work you have ever had. This can be a permanent injury that could turn into something that leaves you disabled for life (as I am) and you have only two years from the date of discovery to sue the surgeon or dentist that gave it to you.

By amypollick — On Jun 23, 2011

I had my first one done a few weeks ago. My dentist numbed my gums with a topical anesthetic before giving me two novocaine shots, so I didn't feel them so much. I ended up needing two more, but as soon as I felt any pain, he was quick to give me another shot.

My procedure took about two hours, all told. The tooth was my very back molar and the doggone thing had *three* roots on it! The dentist had to get into my gum, so I had some fairly significant soreness for a few days, but that tooth was in pretty bad shape.

The worst part, honestly, was having to keep my mouth open that whole time, as well as hearing (and smelling) the drilling. Eeeww. He did have a mouth rest that I could sort of bite on as he worked, which really helped.

I did as directed and took two ibuprofen as soon as I got out of the office. My hubby took me to Dollar General and I picked up a bottle of the liquigels and a bottle of water and I took two right away, and a lorcet when I got home. I highly recommend the liquigels, by the way. They work very, very quickly. As long as I kept the ibuprofen going, I didn't have a great deal of pain.

Anything was better than having a three-root tooth extraction! Yikes!

Do have someone drive you home, though. You might be all right, but then again, especially if you had gas, you might not be.

By anon189440 — On Jun 23, 2011

I got one yesterday for the first time at 26 years old. And I must say I didn't expect to feel the pain that I felt. I'm told the pain was because of the infection. Maybe it was the dentist and his assistant, but I felt all four shots given to me to numb me; they stung pretty bad.

I did have gas as well, but I still felt the sharp pain as the procedure was done. The gas left me nauseous. Afterwards, pain wasn't bad at all. My jaw was just a tad sore, nothing to gripe about. Look at it this way: it'll all be over before you know it!

By anon177867 — On May 19, 2011

I really feel your pain as i am in agony at the minute after having my second treatment for root canal! I feel like someone has hit me with a hammer on my face. It is throbbing but i hope by tomorrow the pain will be gone!

By anon173373 — On May 07, 2011

I had a root canal done 12 hours ago and am amazed that I have not had any pain, other than where I bit my tongue. I had tremendous pain earlier in the week so my dentist cleaned up the tooth and put me on an antiobiotic until I could see the endontist today.

I wonder if the antibiotic already working in my system helped me have no pain. The only pain medication prescribed was 800 mg Motrin, which I have taken twice, per doctor's order to keep swelling down. I was told to take it whether I had pain or not.

By anon169418 — On Apr 21, 2011

I have read all the above comments, and i also cried like a baby. I am still in pain, had it yesterday, didn't know it would still hurt after the roots were taken out.

Has anyone had the crown put on when still in pain? And will it be painful to get the crown? I am worried that I have some kind of infection and all the pain won't be worth my time. Or is it normal to have pain after the first part of the procedure?

By anon166161 — On Apr 07, 2011

Just had a root canal yesterday. This was my second time. I don't remember the first one being this bad. I was in my early 20's then, so I'm thinking as I get older, my jaw can't handle the stress of being open for two hours like that.

I woke up in pain at 3 a.m., and was wondering if there was more wrong, but after reading the above I'm thinking I was just luckier the first time. I've been taking Advil, and it seems a little better. I'll give it another day, before calling the dentist back, I guess. The pain seems everywhere so I'm not sure if it's the tooth or the jaw?

By anon156880 — On Feb 28, 2011

post root canal pain might be due to infection in your sinuses? Sinus cavities are so close to those roots. Try doing sinus wash with a neti pot.

By anon138738 — On Jan 02, 2011

Had a re root canal on Hogmanay to get it over with in 2010. Procedure was fine - didn't hurt at all (and I was very nervous) Dentist was nice. Cost £48 (including x-rays). Now a few days later, and unfortunately getting quite a bit of throbbing. Taking ibuprofen and paracetamol but only a little relief. Hope the darn thing has worked. Might need more amoxicillin as had this for five days before treatment.

By anon138313 — On Dec 31, 2010

I just had my first, and hopefully my only, root canal done today. I was in the office for over three hours. They were backed up. The dentist took two breaks. One 45 minute break, and the other 15 minute break. He worked on other patients during those times.

I was frustrated at first, but now that I'm home, and the numbing has worn off, I'm happy with my dentist. He did a very good job. He was very tender. When he and the hygienist put the pain meds in I barely felt anything. I am in little pain. Just a little sore.

I'm thankful I haven't had to experience some of the pain that I've read that some people have experienced. I hope it stays that way. I think I finally found a dentist that is good! Yay!

By anon136182 — On Dec 21, 2010

I'm just a 13 year old girl. I'm going to have my root canal done this afternoon and I'm really scared! my heart is beating so darn fast. please pray for me!

By anon135960 — On Dec 21, 2010

I've recently had two root canals - one was a re-treat of an old one which wasn't done properly originally two decades ago. Your comments are all so scary and happily do not reflect the reality for me.

Only go to competent and caring dental practitioners and you will have much better experiences. This even applies to hygienists. There is always someone out there willing to hurt you or take poor care of you, so the ones who know how to do it comfortably are harder to find.

The more infection and pain you had pre- the rct, the more likely it is that in between appointments the healing will need pain relief. Taking them immediately before pain strikes is a good idea i.e., don't wait for the LA to wear off first.

By anon134705 — On Dec 15, 2010

I am the biggest baby ever when it comes to dental work.

Although the specialist that I was sent to was a total jerk, I didn't have any pain associated with it. After the initial root canal I had to wait three weeks to go back and have it looked at for any infection, then a temporary filling put in. I was told now I have to wait three more weeks and go back to my regular dentist to have permanent filling put in.

Why? I think it is all politics! I think it is horrible that we as patients are put through this twice to get a permanent filling!

By anon129757 — On Nov 25, 2010

My name is Josh and I live in Southern California and am paying $1,600 for a root canal done on my bottom right tooth right next to my k9.

And i would love to say I hate you guys for 75 percent of the comments being in pain. I thank you for your brutal honesty, but it's just too brutal and you guys have me scared to death.

But my dentist is a leading dentist in this whole city and he's been on TV several times so I'm sure he will handle it better then other dentists. When i got my four wisdom teeth out, it didn't hurt really. I just remember it the next day. i was a fat chipmunk and was aching kind of. So i hope the root canal is just like that because these Koreans are so smart and all the leading dentists i read on a newspaper are 90 percent korean.

So if you're going to go to a root canal i suggest you go to an asian dentist with a lot of experience and who has been on TV. After all hopefully i won't be coming back on this site and telling you my experience. dear god i hope not, because you people make it sound so damn painful. Give birth again without being numbed? Are you serious? You're really going to compare a baby coming out of a little hole to your gums and teeth? You guys have me scared!

By anon126060 — On Nov 11, 2010

I am 48 years old and I have had lots of dental work in my life, beginning at age 13 when I had to have one root canal and numerous large fillings (which had to eventually have crowns when they got too old).

I can tell you that dental procedures are pain-free, (in my experience). There are the injections that precede the treatment, but if you relax and breathe, they are at most a mild discomfort. Also, some dentists are super good at the injections and you really don't feel much of anything. I had quite a number of injections when I was 13 and it was not a big deal. I don't remember that dentist being one of the ones particularly good at injections, either.

I would not go to just any dentist, oral surgeon or endodontist. Go to the smartest, most experienced practitioners, even if they are out of network. Get some recommendations. Once you have your dental problems fixed, do your part and brush and floss a couple times per day. It may sound burdensome, but you actually get used to it and it makes your dental work last a lot longer.

Find a dental hygienist that you like and see her every six months. If you do that, they will find problems when they are small and you won't end up with root canals and falling out teeth. And if you can stand any more advice, work on reducing sugars in your mouth and diet to minimize your reliance on your dentist.

I hate to say this, but there are medical professionals with licenses that you don't want to let near you. Don't just pick your dentist from an insurance company list; you may very well end up suffering from incompetence or dishonesty.

I don't know about this business of health problems caused by dental materials. I've read about it, but I have experienced no problems despite my dental history. I think anyone with chronic health problems should take a good hard look at their diet and exercise levels.

If you eat 65 percent vegetables, are lean, strong and fit and you still have problems, then maybe it's time to consider the very extreme step of destroying all of your dental fillings, root canals and crowns. However, if I did that, I don't know how I would chew my vegetables.

My mother is almost 80 years old and she has also had tons of dental work. She has no health problems and cares full-time for my severely-disabled sister.

Life is not perfect. If you need the work, I say get it done by a competent professional. I will not say that no one has ever had a metal toxicity problem or a problem from a root canal, but I think there are tons of people like me and my mother who have survived quite nicely.

By anon125359 — On Nov 09, 2010

Root Canal? Never, ever again. I'd rather have my head hacked off without anesthetic. Had mine five days ago and the pain is getting worse by the day. It's so bad, I feel like pulling the thing out myself. Now on second course of antibiotics. Painkillers don't even touch it. I sympathise with everyone here going through the same.

By anon123999 — On Nov 04, 2010

I had my first treatment of root canal today. the procedure was fine, but once the anesthetic wore off, I've been in so much pain, like to the point i can cry. i seriously would rather get the damn thing out than to have to put up with this after pain in between treatments. Not happy!

By anon120010 — On Oct 20, 2010

I've had four root canals before. i now just had my fifth one two days ago. i am pregnant and can't eat, sleep or even close my mouth. I can't take anything but tylenol. i would rather deliver this baby with no pain meds than to deal with this any longer. i am miserable. i have never been in this much pain. I had two children with no pain meds. I can't take it too much longer. i am just going to tell the dentist to pull the darn thing.

By anon118581 — On Oct 14, 2010

Had a root canal at 9:00 this morning. I took a Valium last night before bed and one an hour prior to my appt. My endo did the whole treatment in one step, no coming back multiple times. I have a problem getting numb but he nailed it the first time. No pain, period. Jaw is a little sore but Advil is helping with that. All in all, much less of a traumatic experience than I had anticipated.

By anon113872 — On Sep 26, 2010

On my second root canal in three weeks. Both done on teeth with almost new crowns that abscessed. I wish I had done an implant like I wanted to but dentist talked me out of it. $2000 invested. Amoxicilin and ibuprofen did not help infection/pain. Needed Cleocin and percocet. Burning sharp pain in nerve along cheek and side of face. Pain in tooth and mouth. Gallbladder surgery was easier.

The crown was ruined and must be replaced ($1100). I am never doing this again. I can't believe anyone says this is not painful. The infection must be what makes it painful.

By anon111231 — On Sep 15, 2010

I had my first root canal two days ago and I thought once it was over, I'd find the relief that I so desperately needed. I was so very wrong!!

Over the past two days the pain has become steadily worse until it is now unbearable!

I spoke to a GP (where I work) and he prescribed me with a seven day course of Amoxicillin.

I just hope it works. I can't take any more.

I often wondered why people winced when I told them I was about to have a root canal. Now unfortunately, I know.

By anon110167 — On Sep 10, 2010

I'm getting a root canal, just waiting for my insurance to cover it. should i just get my tooth pulled? all you people make it sound like its really bad, and now I'm terrified. what should i do? help me out people. tell me what to do.

By anon104748 — On Aug 17, 2010

I had a root canal on my front tooth on Monday. It's 12:46 am and I am up researching on the internet what I can do to relieve some of this pain. It is killing me.

I can't sleep, can't eat and am sick to my stomach. This pain is unbearable. I have taken the doctor's recommendation of two to three ibuprofen with one hydrocodone every six hours and nothing. I've since increased my hydrocodone to every two hours because it's so unbearable and still nothing.

Did anyone find a way to relieve the pain? I'm also ice packing, nothing!

By anon100799 — On Jul 31, 2010

I live in the UK and I've just had a filling (which was very painful a few hours after i left the surgery). it didn't work and so I'm having a root canal. I'm also going to have my top right wisdom tooth out quite soon. Ooh, but the best thing is that everything I have done is absolutely free, how I love the NHS.

By anon96340 — On Jul 15, 2010

I just had a root canal done and honestly it was no big deal. The anesthesia worked great and I had no pain whatsoever during the root canal. Just lots of noise from all the drills! The endodontist was wonderful and I will be sure to highly recommend him to anyone i know who needs a root canal done.

By anon93088 — On Jul 01, 2010

well I'm 15 and I'm getting two and I'm so scared. do they hurt a lot?

By anon89722 — On Jun 11, 2010

i had the last process of my root canal done three days ago and I'm still having severe pain. I'm counting down the hours until i can take more pain relief.

I am taking ibuprofen, mersyndol and also rubbing my gums with whisky. Last night i managed to get four hours of sleep, which was four more than the night before.

This is my second in 14 years and will be my last. i go back in two weeks time to have my wisdom tooth removed, which should be a breeze.

By anon84576 — On May 16, 2010

I just had a bit of a laugh reading back through all of this: how much pain were we all subjected to? The root canal has since passed and life has gone back to normal.

But for anyone who has just had one, I recommend Panadeine soluble rapid (red packet from memory - over the counter). I dissolved two in water and within maybe two minutes, i felt much better. After five, i could sleep.

By anon84001 — On May 13, 2010

I had a root canal yesterday and am in probably close to the same pain that I had prior to the root canal. Tylenol #3's don't touch the pain. I've had some luck with Ibuprofen but it doesn't last long enough. I can't go in to work like this so I'm at home.

By anon82716 — On May 07, 2010

I had a root canal treatment and I'm lucky as I did not face such a bad experience. I was pretty scared after going through all your articles but I would rather consider that root canal is not that painful a treatment. So go to a good doctor who will guide you and give the proper treatment, and don't be scared of a root canal.

By anon71445 — On Mar 18, 2010

I've had four or five root canals, and honestly they weren't bad. But I just had an extraction (It was a failed root canal) by an oral surgeon who didn't have a great bedside manner, and I need another root canal.

The guy who did the other root canals is no longer on my insurance, so I am with all of you--putting it off as long as possible. I know I will need to take valium or something as I was a wreck with the tooth pull---and no, nitrous oxide did not do a thing for me. I was so amped out that it didn't even work.

Good luck to everyone. I'm holding out as long as I can. Yes, I already had 3000 into the other tooth with the root canal that had to be extracted (cost of root canal and crown), and now another 3-5K for an implant, and another 1500 for crown on the same tooth. These people make way too much.

By anon69218 — On Mar 06, 2010

Totally agree with all of the above! I'm going through a root canal myself at the moment and it's the most painful thing i have ever experienced! Days of pain after each treatment. I'm getting to the stage where i don't think i can go back!

The dentist tells me to take Tylenol for the pain but it doesn't even come close to helping with the pain, which also keeps me awake at night! I'm now thinking i have soreness and pain in my other teeth but not sure if it's just the pain from the root canal!

I feel sick to my stomach too, which doesn't help with all the pain! if i knew that it was going to be like this i would never have started it and the price is ridiculous: $2,600.

By smugglet — On Jan 09, 2010

I have been reading that root canals have an undeserved reputation of being painful, too. Well I think it's very well deserved! I am in pain. I had the first stage of my root canal yesterday and after the anesthetic wore off i was actually crying like a baby from the pain. Spent all day yesterday sleeping and today trying to stomach as many pain killers as possible.

I have definitely taken too many but I need to - I would happily throw up from too much nurofen than deal with this pain. I did ring the dentist who said this seems normal and the pain should go away. I hope so. Tomorrow is day three so let's see if I can function.

By anon49098 — On Oct 17, 2009

Terror70... I feel your pain... literally!!! I would rather have my gallbladder taken out again than put up with this pain. I had two root canals on the same tooth and medicine put into it twice... I still have to finish by putting in the actual filling. I was given Dorvecet and still no relief! I'm so tired of this pain!! I hope I haven't got an infection in the jaw bone or something. I don't know what more to do. $2000 and this much pain, wish I had just pulled it out!

By Terror70 — On Apr 17, 2009

I just had a root canal(re-treated) the first one I had was about 2 years. ago. Always had discomfort. Anyway went to a new dentist and he said it had to be retreated so I did, man oh man I wish I had just had the thing extracted.

It's been 3 days and I am in the most severe pain ever. I'd rather give birth again.

I went back to the dentist and he said the filling was too high so he drilled it down and told me I should be OK. I'm on antibiotics and have been taking them as prescribed. But he only gave me Motrin 800 mg and said to alternate with Tylenol and all it's managed to do is give me a stomach ache. I'm in so much pain I cried like a baby I scared my kids. Help!

By andy57 — On Dec 09, 2008

A family friend said she has had a few root canals. She says they are no big deal. I've known her for a few years. She complains of the slightest bit of pain. So I thought to myself, nothing to fear. I work in construction, injured often but can normally still work. Thought I had a fairly high pain threshold. WRONG!! I'm not sure I'll ever go for another root canal again. The most painful experience I've ever had at the dentist. I felt like a baby.

I also read on this site that root canals have a bad rap and it's not justified. Well, what happened then?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.