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Root Canals

Pain/swelling/numbness post root canal proc.




3 days ago (friday) I had a root canal on my bottom left 4th from the back tooth (not sure of number)

It is now 3 days later, the tooth that had work done has dull sharp pain (when he gave me a needle it hit my jaw, felt like a nerve, and hoping its not damaged) My entire chin area is numb on left side, including the whole bottom lip.

800MG Motrin didnt work, they`ve now upped it to Vicodin. I`m using a warm compress, to try to bring down swelling, but there is still pain...

Can you give me ANY advice to alleviate pain, swelling, and numbness as the Vicodin isnt helping yet either. Thanks very much in advance for your time and assistance.


Pain and swelling can occur about 10% of the time following certain types of root canals.  This is what is called a "flare up" and is usually seen in the first few days after a root canal is done.  Swelling in the area can alter nerve sensations.  Also, numbness can persist for a period of time after treatment. 

Motrin and Vicodin are common methods to control postoperative pain, and unfortunately this pain usually lasts for a period of days.  There are other pain medications and ways to take those medications that can be discussed with your dentist/endodontist.  It is important to take care of yourself (sleep, liquids, etc.).  Hot or cold packs can help.  If there is significant swelling or a fever, you may need a prescription for antibiotics or other medications. 

I can not tell you specifically what is necessary without knowing your case or performing an evaluation, but if you have swelling and continued numbness, I would suggest an evaluation by your dentist or endodontist to help you get through the postoperative period.

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Response by:

Melissa McCartney Drum, DDS, MS Melissa McCartney Drum, DDS, MS
Assistant Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University