Does getting a root canal hurt?
Everyone has heard the old sayings that refer to how much root canals hurt, but does getting a root canal hurt, as the old adages claim? The truth is that with modern endodontic tools and expert skills, root canals cause no more pain than getting a tooth filled. In fact, successfully performed root canals ultimately stop the pain. Now is a perfect time to break down the reasons behind the notion of painful root canals and find out why it no longer applies.
Does Getting a Root Canal Hurt?
Too many people today falsely believe that getting a root canal causes pain. The process of root canal therapy does not cause any pain thanks to the use of local anesthetic medicine that keeps your mouth numb the entire time.
Patients only feel discomfort before the procedure because they have inflamed pulp causing pressure and pain in the tooth’s nerve. After the procedure, the body needs some time to heal. However, because the endodontist removed the nerve and the inflamed pulp, there should not be any pain after healing.
What Happens When I Get a Root Canal?
When getting a root canal, much of the time involves the endodontist’s preparation for the procedure. They need to get out tools, take digital images of your tooth, and isolate it with a dental dam. Preparation and planning reduce the active time required for the procedure.
Once prepared, the endodontist will numb your gums and tooth with local anesthesia injected into the gum. After this medicine activates, you should not feel anything in the treated area. The endodontist will drill open the tooth a little and use the Gentlewave system to clean out infected material.
The Gentlewave system does not require the endodontist to insert tools into the tooth to clean out the canals. Instead, it combines powerful water jets and sound waves to gently and effectively remove bacteria and pulp from even the smallest and farthest reached of the tooth’s canals.
Once cleaned, the root canals have a sealant applied to prevent any additional entry by bacteria that could restart the inflammation. Depending on which tooth you had treated, you might need to return to your dentist to get a crown over it. Generally, dentists recommend placing crowns over molars treated with root canals because the tooth needs the extra strength of a crown to avoid cracking.
The root canal process with the Gentlewave system often takes only a single visit to the endodontist, and healing takes a few days. Only after the anesthesia wears off will you feel any type of discomfort from the root canal procedure.
How Did Root Canals Get a Reputation for Being Painful?
The poor reputation of root canals likely stemmed from the lack of effective anesthesia and the sensitive nature of the canals inside the tooth. Endodontics deals exclusively with treating the interior portions of the tooth, which include the nerve and pulp. Therefore, modern endodontists have additional training in mitigating pain during procedures.
Decades ago, some dentists may not have waited enough time for the anesthesia to take effect and started the process of opening a tooth and using files to remove the pulp before the patient felt numb. Naturally, this likely caused serious pain due to the dentist directly touching the inflamed nerves without the anesthesia fully in effect.
Endodontists know when to begin the procedure and use better tools and methods, such as the Gentlewave system, to reduce directly touching the nerve with files.
If you get a root canal today, you can expect a painless procedure that will save your tooth.
Is There Pain During Recovery After a Root Canal?
With all dental and endodontic procedures, you’ll feel some discomfort after as the body naturally heals. Patients often describe the pain as sensitivity to hot and cold foods or a dull ache or pressure inside the tooth. Over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can ease this pain.
If you do feel pain, rest assured that it will ease over the next few days after your root canal. The only type of discomfort some people report after a week is persistent sensitivity that may stick around for a couple of weeks. Talk to your endodontist if you have concerns about any type of pain or discomfort after a root canal.
Once your body heals after the root canal, the pain caused by the infected pulp will stop, and you’ll be able to live without dental pain and keep your tooth.
What If I Feel Scared to Get a Root Canal? What Can I Do?
Realize that fear of going to the endodontist is normal. There are several things you can do to help ease your worries about getting a root canal.
First, talk to your endodontist and let them know that you feel anxious about the procedure. Talking about your concerns may help you to feel better.
Second, bring earbuds to listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts during the procedure to keep your mind off the root canal. Occupying your mind with something enjoyable might help you stay calm and avoid fear.
Try meditation or deep breathing in the waiting room before the root canal to recenter your mind away from your concerns. Or have a friend accompany you to the endodontist and sit in the waiting room with you.
If you have a severe fear of all dental procedures that keeps you from getting even regular dental checkups, consider talking to a therapist. Avoiding the dentist or endodontist from fear can dramatically impact your smile and increase your chances of developing cavities or gum disease.
Get Expert Root Canal Treatments from Southwest Endodontics Serving the Orland Park and Geneva Areas
Your teeth are one of the few parts of the body that don’t heal themselves after serious injury or decay. If you have pain in a tooth, you need to have an evaluation and treatment as soon as possible. Root canal therapy can save your tooth and let you keep a complete, natural smile. Don’t let fear hold you back from getting the endodontic care you need. Both our locations for Southwest Endodontics offer comforting, professional doctors and the Gentlewave system. Contact us to schedule a visit for a root canal or evaluation of tooth pain.