Most people think of a root canal as being a painful procedure. This is not usually the case, since your dentist will administer plenty of Novocaine or a similar numbing agent to ensure you don't feel any pain as your teeth is being worked on. What is often a problem, though, is soreness after the root canal. Some of that soreness may be in your jaw as a result of having held your mouth open for an hour or longer. Other soreness may be the result of a little lingering infection near the tooth roots. Luckily, there are some easy ways to ease both kinds of pain associated with a root canal.
Take ibuprofen prior to the root canal.
Check with your dentist to make sure it is okay for your to take ibuprofen. In most cases, it will be — but there are some cases in which health conditions may make ibuprofen less safe. Taking ibuprofen before the procedure helps prevent you from developing inflammation related to the trauma of having your tooth root worked on, and from holding your mouth open for a while. Much of the pain often suffered after a root canal is related to inflammation, so if the inflammation is alleviated with ibuprofen, you won't have as much pain post-treatment.
As often as you can, take the break and close your jaw.
At various times throughout the root canal treatment, your doctor may remove the blocks from your jaw and ask if you want a break. In the moment, it is tempting to say "no, I'm fine" and have the dentist carry on so you can get out of there faster. But in the long run, you are better off taking the break. Open and close your mouth a little. This will keep your jaw loose so you don't have as many jaw aches afterwards.
Take your antibiotics to completion.
Dentists often prescribe antibiotics to take before and after a root canal since most root canals are performed due to infected tooth roots. Do not stop taking your antibiotic after your root canal! You need to take it to completion — which is usually 7 or 10 days. (Check your prescription bottle to be sure.) By taking the antibiotics, you are continuing to help your body fight off the infection, which means you won't have as much swelling and pain related to the infection in the days following your root canal.
Root canal treatments themselves are not painful, but the days after treatment can be. Take the precautions above to keep yourself more comfortable.