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Dentistry/Jaw Pain after Root Canal


I'm so glad I found this site . . .  Three weeks ago I had a tooth go bad and ended up having to suffer through three days of extreme pain until I got in to see my doctor on Monday.  He sent me to an endodonist for a root canal, which too two hours to "start."  I had to go back a week later to finish it.  During this time, I also was on Amoxocillian.

In between my endodonist visits, and since she finished it, I have had excruciating jaw pain.  I went to an oral surgeon/maxillofacial doctor who told me I do not have TMD (something the endodonist thought for sure I had).  I can open my jaw fine, no pain or clicking.  He prescribed  muscle relaxers, which don't really seem to do anything.

It has been over a week since my root canal was finished.  She swears she got all four roots, took finishing x-rays and says everything looks good.  My question:  why am I in so much pain?  I can't eat.  Drinking hot liquids kills me.  I wake up aching and am constantly taking ibuprofen all day long.  The weird thing is that my lower jaw hurts the most and the root canal was on the top, second tooth from the back.  The pain is radiating down my jaw, into my chin, and even up my temple causing a constant headache.

What is wrong?  I hate to sound dramatic but I can't live the rest of my life like this.  All the professionals tell me to wait it out and that it just takes time.  They say since I was in so much pain when I came in that it will take a long time to get it to go away.  How long do I wait?  Should I be insisting on something else?  Could I have an infection?

Any answers would be appreciated.  Thank you so much for your time!

Kelli - Of course, without examining you I cannot be sure, but the symptoms of lower jaw pain into the chin and up into the temple is usually symptoms of spasms of the jaw muscles.  Often muscle relaxing medication do not work.  I don't know if what I am going to suggest will help, but if it is muscular in origin, this will definitely help reduce the pain.

You need to start with warm salt water rinses on the side that bothers you.  Do the warm salt water for a minimum of  5 minutes, 5-6 times a day.  In addition, take a warm washcloth (keep dipping it to keep it warm)and place it along the side of your face, from the temple region to the bottom of the jaw.  Do this for about 10 minutes, 4-5 times a day.  

If the problem is muscular this will help.  The other possible cause of the pain, especially if the tooth was an upper molar, is that you have developed sinus inflammation.  This problem can produce spreading pain like you decribe.  Try the warm salt water first and see if it helps.  Usually it takes 3-4 days to work.  Get back to me and let me know how it all goes.


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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and I am available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicine for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor and State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA -University of Connecticut DMD - University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

Awards and Honors
National Honor Society (OKU), Philadelphia County Dental Society, Mosby Book Award, Oral Surgery Honors, Summa Cum Laude

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