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.

How can I Deal with Pain After a Root Canal?

By Madeleine A.
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.

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.

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.

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.
Discussion Comments
By anon314229 — On Jan 16, 2013

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?

By honeybees — On Oct 05, 2012

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.

By myharley — On Oct 04, 2012

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.

By golf07 — On Oct 04, 2012

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.

By sunshined — On Oct 03, 2012

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.

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.