How painful is a root canal? Fear that the procedure is excruciatingly painful has been somehow circulating, which is nothing but a misconception. It might’ve been true in the past, but it’s definitely not reflective of today’s reality, where advances in dentistry have made the treatment far more comfortable. Mild discomfort that takes place post-procedure also sounds scary, but it too can be kept under control.
Let’s debunk this fear by first understanding a root canal’s procedures, purpose, and pain management post-procedure.
A root canal is a dental treatment designed to salvage a severely infected or decayed tooth.
The procedure begins by removing the damaged pulp (the soft core within the tooth housing nerves and blood vessels). Then, the pulp chamber and root canals are disinfected and finally filled with a special substance to seal them. This process halts further damage and restores the tooth to its full function.
Are root canals painful? Contrary to popular belief, they are not excessively painful, thanks to local anesthesia and modern techniques.
When anesthesia is deployed, it numbs the tooth and the surrounding area, making the procedure virtually painless. The modern techniques in this day and age also help–you might feel pressure, but it’s far from pain. After all, a root canal is a pain-relief procedure, not a pain-causing one.
Still, pain usually occurs when the anesthesia wears off, known as post-procedure pain. It sounds scary, but unlike the kind of pain caused by bacterial infection, it will go away under proper maintenance.
Since the need for a root canal treatment arises from an infection deep within the tooth, there’s no way to eliminate the pain other than to have it cleaned. But beyond pain relief, the treatment also comes with some additional benefits.
If the infection is left untreated, it could lead to more severe health problems such as abscess formation, damage to surrounding bone, and spreading the infection to other parts of the body.
Removing the infected or inflamed pulp can save the tooth from extraction, which is always the last resort in dental treatment.
Usually, extractions are followed by a bridge or implant of some sort. This is because when a tooth is lost and not replaced, the remaining teeth may shift, leading to bite problems and difficulty chewing. Bridges and implants are not just costly–they also require more treatment time and additional procedures for adjacent teeth and supporting tissues.
A root canal may seem costly upfront, but it is often more cost-effective.
The treatment also helps maintain the aesthetic appearance of your teeth. A tooth discolored from internal damage or decay can be restored with tooth-colored fillings or crowns after a root canal, contributing to a healthier and brighter smile.
Here are key signs that you may need a root canal:
Though the procedure itself is not agonizing, discomfort may be experienced afterward. Once the process is complete, following your dentist’s advice for post-treatment care is essential.
Here are the typical ways to keep the discomfort under control and heal quickly:
Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be purchased and will typically alleviate the discomfort. In some instances, your dentist may even prescribe stronger medications.
Once medications are prescribed, it’s a must to stick to your dentist’s instructions on dosage and frequency.
In addition to medications, there are several ways to help manage discomfort:
Practicing good oral hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing, is crucial during recovery. But remember to be gentle around the treated tooth. Avoid vigorous rinsing and refrain from smoking as well, as it can delay the healing process.
Ultimately, the answer to “How painful is a root canal?” is no; it’s not a painful procedure when anesthesia and modern techniques are available. Discomfort, however, occurs in the healing stage. If the patient goes through this stage with care and according to an expert’s advice, it won’t take long to reach full recovery.
If you’re looking for a professional dental practice, look no further than the dedicated team of dentists at Edgard El Chaar. Contact us now for an exceptional dental service.
Balto, K. (2011, March). Tooth Survival after root canal treatment. Evidence-Based Dentistry, 12(1), 10–11. https://www.nature.com/articles/6400772
ZEHNDER, M., & PAQUÉ, F. (2008, September). Disinfection of the root canal system during root canal re-treatment. Endodontic Topics, 19(1), 58–73. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1601-1546.2011.00254.x
Yammine, S. (2022). Root canal morphology and effects on root canal preparation. The Saint’s International Dental Journal, 6(1), 2. https://www.sidj.org/article.asp?issn=2454-3160;year=2022;volume=6;issue=1;spage=2;epage=3;aulast=Yammine
Balto, K. (2010, December). How common is tooth pain after root canal treatment? Evidence-Based Dentistry, 11(4), 114–114. https://www.nature.com/articles/6400758