October 4, 2021
From snakes to sharks, a lot of animals get an undeserved bad reputation. As it turns out, so do some dental treatments.
The term “root canal” strikes fear in the hearts of some dental patients, but should it? Keep reading to learn the answer to the question, “Are root canals painful?”
What Is a Root Canal?
People fear what they don’t understand, so it’s important to clarify exactly what a root canal entails. Generally, your dentist can detect a cavity early enough so that it can be treated with a filling. When you wait too long to get a filling, however, the decay can potentially reach the pulp within your tooth.
Once a cavity advances to the nerves in the pulp, it can cause a terrible toothache. The pulp must be removed to prevent the infection from spreading. That’s where root canal therapy enters the picture.
During this procedure, the pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is sanitized. After the pulp is replaced with a synthetic material, the tooth is restored with a dental crown to protect it from future damage.
Does a Root Canal Hurt?
A root canal usually is not painful. Many patients say that it feels similar to getting a filling. The pain people associate with root canals likely comes from the intense toothache caused by the infection that necessitates the procedure. Because local anesthetic is used during the treatment, you shouldn’t feel any discomfort during the root canal itself.
What Can I Expect After Getting a Root Canal?
The numbness of the anesthetic usually wears off a few hours after the procedure. You can expect some minor soreness, so it’s best to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen as soon as you get home.
You can hold a cold compress to your cheek in 10-minute intervals to diminish pain and curb potential swelling. The discomfort should dissipate after one week at most. If your tooth is still hurting after that, call your dentist to report your symptoms in case a follow-up exam is needed.
When it comes to root canals and pain, they are usually not a problematic pairing due to modern dental techniques and technology. A root canal is done to relieve your toothache by removing the infected pulp – it exists to help you, not hurt you.
A root canal saves you time and money that would otherwise go toward extraction and replacement. So, if your dentist says you need a root canal, don’t fall victim to the narrative that no good can come from it.
About the Author
Dr. James Sierra earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He has taken more than 1,200 hours of continuing education so far to keep learning and stay current on ever-evolving dental technology. If you think you might need a root canal, Dr. Sierra offers sedation dentistry in addition to local anesthesia so that pain will not be an issue during the procedure. To schedule a consultation and find out for sure what is troubling your tooth, visit his website or call (281) 482-2631.
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