Thursday, May 22, 2014

If a root canal takes out the nerve, why does it hurt after?

This is one of those counterintuitive ones.  Yes, we do remove the nerve (pulp) of the tooth in order to do a root canal.  But that’s not the only thing that has to heal.  Usually the little ligaments (periodontal ligaments) that hold the tooth to the bone and gingiva are inflamed as well as the pulp of the tooth.  When a dentist performs a root canal, often times some of the sealer material or part of the instrument will journey past the end (apex) of the nerve chamber….we’re talking millimeters here folks, after all… and this can cause continued inflammation as well. 
Another common problem is the tooth is working too hard.  If the situation permits, I will always reduce the amount of force (occlusion) that the tooth is receiving from the opposing tooth, while it is healing.  While its not always a possibility, you should always try to rest the tooth as much as possible after a root canal.
So, it is true that sometimes, despite all your and our efforts, things just go wrong.  Roots can fracture and infections can persist even with the best oral care and antibiotic treatment.  If after a period of time, the tooth still feels pain it may be necessary to retreat or reevaluate by either your dentist or a root canal specialist, an endodontist.

Thanks for all your questions and keep them coming.  For appointment information or even general questions regarding your care, feel free to contact us at Toothbrusher’s Dental (405) 789-6935 or