New Research Shows Pain After a Root Canal Could Be TMD


If you have ever had a dental procedure such as a crown, root canal or tooth extraction, you know how painful it can be in the days following. Now imagine having to deal with that pain for six months or longer.

A recent study by the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN) Collaborative Group looked at the causes of long-term pain after dental root canal therapy (RCT) to determine why some patients experience persistent pain for months on end. The findings have set the stage for further research and treatment.

Pain Classifications After Root Canal Therapy

The study noted above took into account the various causes of pain after dental procedures. The classifications are:

Odontogenic – Pain that is derived from the tissues of the teeth.

Nonodontogenic – Pain that is caused by factors outside of the tooth tissue.

Mixed Odontogenic/Nonodontogenic – This is when both odontogenic and nonodontogenic causes are present. This condition can make diagnosis more difficult, and physicians must isolate the causes of each type of pain.

The study conducted by the National Dental PBRN Collaborative Group was designed to measure the prevalence of each type of pain after RCT, and identify sources of nonodontogenic pain.

TMD Found to be the Main Cause of Nonodontogenic Pain

After analyzing patients across the country, the National Dental PBRN Collaborative Group researchers found that 10% of patients experienced persistent pain lasting at least six months after RCT. The researchers focused on a group of 354 patients in the Midwest to delve into the type of pain that they were experiencing.

Within the focus group, 38 people had pain after six months. The pain classifications were determined as:

37% odontogenic

42% nonodontogenic

11% mixed odontogenic/nonodontogenic

10% no longer had pain at the time of their evaluation

The researchers then turned their attention to the patients who were diagnosed with nonodontogenic pain. Within this group they found TMD was the cause of pain for 87.5% of the patients. The National Dental PBRN Collaborative Group is pushing for further research to determine the connection between TMD and nonodontogenic pain.

Important Findings Connected to TMD & Persistent Pain

The study revealed findings patients need to be aware of if they plan to have a root canal, or have recently had the procedure and are still experiencing pain.

  • Diagnostic tests to evaluate pain made fewer findings for nonodontogenic pain compared to odontogenic pain.
  • Just 25% of patients with nondontogenic causes described the pain as localized.
  • 75% of patients with pain classified as nonodontogenic did not have TMD prior to the procedure.

The National Dental PBRN Collaborative Group suggests that anyone experiencing pain months after a root canal should be evaluated and treated for TMD.

Finding relief is possible when you are properly evaluated by professionals who understand the TMJ anatomy and how it functions.  If you live in the Houston area and are experiencing pain after a dental procedure, contact the team at MedCenter TMJ. Dr. Auvenshine and Dr. Pettit have decades of experience diagnosing TMD causes, as well as creating custom treatment plans.

Original Source:

Scroll to Top