Hi Dr. Hall-
I read a response you sent to someone regarding pain after root canal. I am experiencing pain as well.
In December, my dentist recommended I get 3 crowns. One on my molar on the bottom, and 2 on the top molars. About a month after, I was still experiencing horrible shooting pain in my lower crowned tooth and my jaw, as well as terrible headaches. I went back, she determined that I needed a root canal. I got the root canal, and a week and a half later, I am still in terrible pain.
She found 4 canals, could there have been more than 4? Also, I was prescribed antibiotics, which I could not fill right away, and started taking about a week after the procedure. I am on day three of the antibiotics. Should I wait for my antibiotics to run out before going back to the dentist? I also think she is going to have to do a root canal on the upper crowned tooth, as it is sensitive to pressure and temperature. I wish she would have taken the time to do the root canal BEFORE putting on crowns. I have been taking ibuprofen for over a month now. That can’t be good for me. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated.
– Norma from California
I’ll take a try at helping you here, but there’s a lot I don’t know about your situation, such as – is there any change in the pain since having the root canal? And what triggers the pain? Is it spontaneous? Is it pain to biting? Is it pain to cold? Is the pain getting any better or not? So there are a number of possibilities here of what could be wrong.
1. Yes, there could be more than four canals in this tooth. That’s a good sign, that your dentist found four canals. That shows she was looking conscientiously, because most molars have only three canals. But there could be five.
2. It could have been another tooth that was hurting all along, and it just felt like this tooth. That happens sometimes.
3. It could be that this tooth is having the type of postoperative pain that root canals can have. If there is a final crown on the tooth, then this tooth will be in normal occlusion. Sometimes the root canal treatment causes a tooth to be inflamed, which causes it to swell up in the socket a little bit, so you hit on it harder, and this can cause post-operative pain. And with a crown already on the tooth, your dentist doesn’t want to reduce the tooth to take it out of occlusion, so it continues to hurt. It can take the tooth a while to settle down.
One way to handle this post-operative pain is for the dentist to make a bleaching splint for one arch and cut out a place in the splint where this tooth is. That way, when you bite with the splint, you can’t hit on this affected tooth. If you wear the splint at night and when you’re not eating, it can provide remarkable relief.
I wouldn’t wait until the antibiotics run out – I’d go back to your dentist. If the pain isn’t getting any better or is getting better very slowly, I’d ask for the bleaching splint. But if ibuprofen takes care of the pain, that doesn’t sound like it is that terrible. Still, it’s not good to take ibuprofen over an extended period.
Sometimes, if a tooth is borderline, the irritation of preparing the tooth for a crown and placing the crown is enough additional irritation to cause a tooth to need a root canal, where it didn’t need it before. That may be what is happening in your case.
I hope this is helpful.
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