Root Canal Pain

Has your dentist recently suggested you need a root canal, but you are worried about the pain? Many people do not realize that the goal of the root canal procedure is to treat a damaged tooth and eliminate existing pain. If you think a root canal may be in your future, it is worthwhile to do a little research and prepare yourself for what to expect from the procedure and the recovery period. Here is more information detailing the root canal treatment from the start of the procedure through the recovery period.

The Root Canal Procedure

In general, the root canal procedure is not painful and is fairly simple. When the center of the tooth, the root, becomes damaged, it needs to be removed. The goal of the root canal procedure is to remove the damaged tissue from the center of the tooth. This removal is critical to saving the tooth before the disease spreads and does damage to nearby teeth. Often, the pain that people talk about experiencing with root canals is usually caused by the damaged tissue that needs to be removed during the procedure.

To help reduce any pain or discomfort, the dentist will administer anesthesia before the procedure starts. A root canal takes place in several steps:

  • First, the dentist must create an opening in the infected tooth.
  • Next, the damaged root tissue is removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned out. Once the damaged root is removed, the infection in the tooth should stop spreading and the pain should be relieved.
  • Finally, the dentist will fill the tooth. Sometimes this step happens at another visit if the cleaning process is more invasive.
  • Finishing touch: after the tooth is filled the dentist will match the treated tooth to the nearby teeth, either using composite or an artificial crown.

After The Procedure

Once the damaged root has been removed from the tooth the primary source of the pain and discomfort should be gone. However, after the procedure some residual pain or discomfort should be expected around the tooth for a few days. If you are nervous about this post-procedure pain, you should have a conversation with your dentist before the procedure. When they present their treatment plan, the dentist will have some ideas on how to prevent and alleviate post-procedure pain and soreness. The dentist will also likely have a list of tips to follow to during recovery to help with pain, swelling, and discomfort.

Why Not Pull The Tooth?

The alternative to removing a decayed or diseased tooth root is to completely extract the tooth. The benefit of the root canal procedure is the ability to preserve the natural tooth. A tooth extraction treatment also involves getting a replacement tooth. Tooth replacement options are costly, involve more dental procedures, and sometimes include long term maintenance. Most dentists recommend their patients keep as many natural teeth as possible and try a root canal procedure to save a tooth prior to extracting it.

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?