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I recently had root canal treatment and am still experiencing a lot of pain. My jaw is extremely stiff and swollen and my tooth and gum very sore. I can't sleep or eat very well. Painkillers are not working and I am on a five day course of antibiotic. Is it normal to experience so much pain after the procedure?

Hi Heather,

I'm sorry to hear you're having all this go on. No, it is not normal to have this kind of reaction after root canal treatment, but we do see this happen in patients maybe 5% of the time. It's a result of "stirring" things up and stimulating your bodies defenses and attempts to heal. It's similar to what goes on when you sprain an ankle...pain & swelling.

You didn't say how long you have been on the antibiotics, but it takes 24-48 hours for them to START working and another day or two for things to really start feeling well again. If it has been longer than 3 days and you are still having this problem, you need to contact your dentist and tell him/her the antibiotics aren't working. The pain medication is designed to get you over the hump until the antibiotics start working. If they aren't strong enough, I would call your dentist and ask for something stronger.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Gary Backlund DMD, MSD


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Gary Backlund, DMD, MSD


I am an Endodontist ( root canal specialist ) and can answer questions about root canals and their treatment. I cannot diagnose or treat online, but can answer general questions. I have been a specialist for 25 years and am Past President of the Washington State Association of Endodontists.


25 years practicing as a specialist

American Association of Endodonists, Past President Washington State Association of Endodontists.

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