Root canals have somehow acquired a reputation for being unbearably painful—so much so that any unpleasant experience is often compared to getting a root canal. This is unfortunate because if anything, root canals alleviate pain, not cause it! Some patients even choose to have a tooth extracted rather than getting a root canal because they’re so afraid of the pain they might experience, but those who do move forward with root canal treatment are pleasantly surprised to find that the procedure isn’t painful at all.
How Much Pain to Expect During a Root Canal
Root canals are used to treat inflamed or infected pulp tissue, which can cause severe toothaches. This pain is much more unpleasant than a root canal treatment, which is used to relieve this pain.
In fact, a root canal is no more painful than getting a cavity filled thanks to modern endodontic techniques and local anesthesia. You’re likely to feel some movement and pressure in your mouth as we work, but not pain. Most patients report being comfortable during their procedure.
The treatment begins by using local anesthesia to numb the affected tooth and the tissue surrounding it. Once the local anesthesia has taken effect, your tooth will be opened so Dr. Ball can access the pulp to remove it. The chamber and roots of the tooth are cleaned, shaped, and disinfected, before being filled with a material called gutta percha. A dental filling or crown is used to seal and restore your treated tooth.
Many patients feel immediate relief when they leave our office, particularly if they’ve been suffering with a painful toothache in the days or weeks leading up to their treatment. Perhaps in the distant past, root canals were so painful that people would rather live with a toothache or have a tooth pulled than see an endodontist, but things have changed. Root canal procedures save your natural teeth, and they do so quickly and comfortably.
Pain After a Root Canal Procedure
While your tooth and the soft tissue surrounding it will be completely numb during your root canal procedure, as the local anesthetic wears off, you’re likely to feel some sensitivity, particularly if your tooth was painful or infected before your root canal.
This sensitivity is minor; we recommend taking over-the-counter pain medication as needed to relieve any discomfort. While the sensitivity isn’t usually severe enough to interfere with work, school, or other activities, we do recommend eating soft foods and avoiding chewing with the treated tooth until the discomfort is gone.
Any sensitivity usually only lasts for a few days after a root canal procedure, but if you notice that your tooth is painful longer than this, give our office a call and we can determine if you should come in for an evaluation.