What is a root canal, and why do they get such a bad reputation? There is so much confusion surrounding them, which leads to people feeling terrified. Due to a lack of information and maybe a few horror stories, many people are left feeling terrified of a root canal procedure. The main concern is usually surrounding the root canal pain they’ll feel during and after, and about the length of the root canal recovery time. We’re here to tell you the good news – a root canal procedure really isn’t as bad as people make out, we’re going to outline it for you to try and dispel any fears you may have.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is technically called an endodontic treatment. It comes from the Greek words “Endo” and “odont” which literally means the inside of the tooth, which makes sense when you know a root canal procedure addresses decay or infections inside the tooth. The make-up of your tooth is a soft layer encased in a hard layer of enamel. The core of your tooth is made up of nerves and blood vessels known as pulp.
In all honesty, an infection on the inside of your tooth can cause pain or inflammation to the soft tissue. Infections can be caused by repeated dental procedures, deep decay or a chip or crack in the tooth. Root canal pain occurs when inflammation is caused by injury of the tooth, which can present without any visible defects. Left untreated, this can develop into an abscess, which is where a root canal procedure comes in.
Root Canal Procedure
The dentist will start the procedure by taking an x-ray of the tooth and the surrounding area. They are looking for decay, which shows up as darker spots on the film. If you have an abscess, the dentist will typically treat this before they perform the root canal procedure.
Thankfully, the first step after the x-ray is pain relief. The dentist will inject Novocaine into the site to numb your tooth and the surrounding gum line to ensure you feel minimum discomfort during the procedure. When it takes effect, the dentist will drill a small hole into the crown of your tooth. They scrape the pulp out of the roots and the pulp chamber before they shape the interior of the tooth. They will then fill in the empty chamber and seal the tooth to complete the root canal procedure.
Root Canal Pain
The great news is, despite the word on the street, most people report that having a root canal procedure is no more painful than a traditional filling, and they get instant relief. It is possible to feel slightly sore and tender for a day or two after the numbing agent wears off, and your tooth may also be slightly more sensitive for a few days. However, this is usually minimal and some people report no pain at all.
Root Canal Recovery
In more potentially surprising news, root canal recovery time is usually minimal, with most people going back to their normal lives almost immediately. You may want to avoid eating very hard, hot or cold foods on the day if you’re sore or sensitive, and it’s also a good idea to wait until the numbing agent wears off before attempting to eat something!