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Is a Root Canal Painful?

Is a Root Canal Painful?

If you’ve been told that you need a root canal, you probably have one question — is the root canal going to be painful? Despite the myth, root canals are designed to relieve pain, not cause it. You shouldn’t feel any more pain than a standard dental filling procedure. Although you may experience sensitivity for two to three days following the procedure, root canal therapy can save your natural teeth and leave you with better overall oral health.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what a root canal is, symptoms indicating the need for a root canal, and the root canal procedure itself. Let’s explore how root canal treatments can help you get your healthy and pain-free smile back.

What is a Root Canal?

Let’s start with the basics. There’s a difference between a root canal procedure and your tooth’s actual root canal. Located within the centre of your tooth, the root canal houses a tooth’s pulp, which contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. It’s only when an infection occurs within this area of the tooth (the pulp) that the need for root canal therapy will come into play.

Root canal treatment is a dental procedure that involves removing the infected portions of an affected tooth; thereby relieving pain directly from the inside of your tooth. More than that, root canal treatment’s main goal is to preserve your natural tooth. It’s often the last line of defence before tooth extraction.

Root Canal Causes: When is a Root Canal Needed?

The only way to know for sure whether you need a root canal is to visit a dental professional who will conduct X-rays to investigate. These high-quality images can confirm the presence of a tooth infection. However, there are many reasons that the infection may be present. Some of the most common include:

  • Tooth decay: Despite your best brush and flossing efforts, plaque can form in the most elusive of tooth crevices. When it’s combined with sugar or acids, the chemical reaction can cause tooth decay or cavities. Root canals are often necessary to save the affected tooth.
  • Leaky fillings: When dental fillings become damaged or fall out, they can leave the centre of your tooth in a vulnerable position. As saliva pools in the filling cavity, it can lead to further decay that can require root canal treatment.
  • Cracked or chipped teeth: Tooth grinding, biting into hard objects, and accidents are frequent causes of cracked and chipped teeth. Aside from affecting your smile’s appearance, these injuries can lead to sensitivity and pain that must be treated from within.
  • Malfunctioning crowns: Although it’s rare for crowns to malfunction, injury or excessive wear may cause tooth pain. If you experience any pain around dental crowns, it’s important to consult your dentist right away. Root canal therapy may be required to alleviate the discomfort.

Tooth Infection Symptoms

While only your dentist can identify a pulp infection with X-rays, there are many indicators that you should keep in mind. Patients who need to undergo a root canal often experience one or many of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain or pressure while chewing is a common symptom that a pulp infection is occurring.
  • Gums that have pimple-like spots could be your body’s way of pointing out a deeper infection.
  • Cracked or chipped teeth, if left untreated, can lead to many dental problems, including a pulp infection.
  • Teeth that are experiencing increased sensitivity may be trying to tell you that an infection is present.
  • Swollen gums can indicate several dental issues, but they are commonly related to a pulp infection.
  • Experiencing decay or darkening of the gums can directly point to the need for root canal treatment to treat a tooth infection.

Can You Experience Pain from a Root Canal?

One of the biggest myths in dentistry is that root canals cause pain. Still, it’s perfectly normal to feel apprehensive about any dental procedure or potential pain. Fortunately, root canal treatment is designed to alleviate pain. By addressing the source of the pain, you can experience great relief from the root canal procedure.

During a root canal procedure, the affected tooth is isolated and local anaesthetic is used to numb the area. Although you may feel slight pressure from the use of dental tools, any pain you experience will be minimal. Many patients report that the pre-procedure pain is far more painful than the actual root canal procedure. Following the root canal treatment, we recommend taking ibuprofen for any lingering discomfort or tooth sensitivity.

Root Canal Treatment Steps: Understanding the Process

Understanding what happens during root canal treatment can help to alleviate any anxiety you may have. Here’s a detailed look at what you can expect during root canal therapy at Hawthorn Road Family Dental Clinic:

  • Imaging: During the first part of the process, our team will take targeted X-rays to pinpoint the exact location of your tooth infection. These images will allow your dentist to precisely remove the infected portions.
  • Local anaesthetic: Once the source of your pain is located, the dentist will administer a numbing local anaesthetic to the surrounding areas. This step ensures that your discomfort is kept to a bare minimum.
  • Thorough cleaning: While your tooth is numb, your dentist will skillfully remove any of the infected tooth pulp material, leaving behind an infection-free root canal cavity.
  • Filling and sealing: Now that the root canal cavity is free from bacteria and infection, it will be sealed and filled to restore the integrity of your tooth. This step strengthens your tooth structure and restores your natural tooth.
  • Crown application: At this stage, the actual root canal treatment is over, but there’s one last thing left to do — apply a dental crown. The dental crown will protect your tooth and restore your smile’s appearance and your tooth’s full function.

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

Depending on your dentist and the complexity of your infection, root canals can be performed in one or two visits. While the amount of time it takes to undergo a root canal treatment varies from case to case, you can typically expect to spend around 90 minutes in the dental chair.

Once your root canal treatment is complete, you can expect to be able to return to your normal activities the very next day. However, it’s of the utmost importance that you follow the post-procedure instructions our team will give you before you leave our office.

Root Canal Recovery Tips

While recovery from root canal treatment is faster than you might expect, there are a few things that you can do to help give yourself the smoothest recovery possible. They include:

  • Regular brushing and flossing
  • Soft foods for a few days following the procedure
  • Avoid chewing on the freshly crowned tooth until it has fully healed
  • Follow the dentist’s instructions regarding prescribed medications
  • Schedule and attend follow-up appointments to make sure your root canal treatment is healing properly

What to Eat After a Root Canal

During the recovery period following root canal therapy, it’s important to monitor the foods that you eat. Foods that are hard or sticky may cause discomfort to the newly treated area. Instead, it’s a good idea to stick to soft foods like mashed potatoes, soups, smoothies, or protein shakes. As recovery progresses, foods with heartier textures can gradually be added back into your diet.

How Much Does a Root Canal Cost

A root canal can cost between $1,200 to $1,800. Factors such as the complexity of the root canal procedure and the location of the affected tooth can contribute to the variation in cost. Before undergoing a root canal, the team at Hawthorn Road Family Dental Clinic will take the time to confirm your diagnosis with digital imaging and discuss your specific treatment, including associated costs.

At Hawthorn Road Family Dental Clinic, we put our patient’s comfort and dental health at the top of our priority list. Despite the myth that root canals are painful, our state-of-the-art equipment and advanced techniques ensure a stress-free experience.

Dr. Mahima Krongold

Dr. Mahima Krongold

Dr Krongold has been practicing dentistry for over twenty years. She has background experience dealing with a diverse range of dental issues, which vary significantly from individual to individual. Her experience has been built upon by her endless thirst for practical and technological advancement in the field of crowns, implants, bridge work, root canals, endodontics, teeth whitening and cosmetic work. Dr Krongold is a family dentist with three children. Children's dentistry is a specialised area for her, particularly encompassing oral hygiene and dental comfort.

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