If you squirm at the thought of having a root canal treatment, you’re not alone. At Boon Dental, a question we get asked a lot is, “does a root canal hurt?”. Luckily, with modern dentistry, root canal treatments are said to be no more painful than a filling. So, not very painful at all! It is in your best interest to have root canal treatment in the case of an infected tooth. The consequences of not treating an infected tooth can be costly, painful and even lead to tooth loss.
At Boon Dental, our dentists have completed countless successful root canal treatments. In this article, we discuss what is involved in the procedure and answer the question, “does a root canal hurt?”. Hopefully, we can clear up a myth or two surrounding the treatment!
What is a root canal?
So, what is a root canal anyway? A root canal technically refers to the internal chamber of your tooth (but we use it to describe the treatment as well). Your root canal is home to the innermost layer of your tooth, the pulp. The pulp is made up of blood vessels, soft tissue and nerve endings. When that pulp becomes infected it needs treating.
Once the infection reaches the pulp it cannot be treated topically. It needs internal treatment. If you ignore the infection, you risk losing that tooth. Infection typically occurs because of advanced tooth decay. Ignoring a cavity or crack in your tooth can also lead to infection. This is why it is so important to look after your teeth and see your dentist for regular check-ups.
What happens in a root canal treatment?
Once you decide to have a root canal treatment your dentist will carefully explain the entire process. Here is what you can expect:
- Your dentist uses anaesthetic to numb your tooth and the surrounding area. This means you shouldn’t feel a thing, maybe just a slight sensation.
- Your dentist then carefully removes all the infection. They will be careful to remove all the infection to reduce the risk of it happening again.
- The next step involves the root canal chamber having a thorough clean and sanitisation.
- Your dentist will then fill the root canal and seal it to prevent bacteria from entering the chamber and causing further infection. It also reinforces the structure of your tooth.
- Your dentist may finish off the treatment by placing a crown on your tooth to further protect and restore it. A crown is not always necessary and will be discussed with you prior to the treatment.
Having root canal treatment usually takes between 30 to 90 minutes and can be done in a single visit. If you do require a dental crown this will mean an extra trip to the dentist. There isn’t much downtime after a root canal treatment. The anaesthesia usually takes a few hours to wear off. After this, you may feel some slight discomfort or sensitivity, but it usually passes within 24 to 48hrs.
Does a root canal hurt?
When a root canal treatment is properly performed it should not be painful. The anaesthesia numbs the area meaning you shouldn’t feel anything. There may be a few odd sensations or some slight discomfort, but this comes with almost any dental treatment. The real pain can come if you decide not to treat your infection. An untreated root canal infection can lead to severe pain in both your mouth and wallet.
If you are worried about having a root canal treatment then speak to a trusted dentist. They will explain everything and be able to reassure you. It is much better to have a root canal treatment than to end up needing a tooth extraction.
How do you know when to seek treatment?
If you suspect you may have an oral infection, then speak to your dentist. The earlier it’s caught the better. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:
- A persistent toothache
- Sensitivity to temperature such as hot or cold beverages
- Discolouration in your tooth
- Swollen gums, cheeks and glands
- Pain when you chew
- Cracks appearing in your tooth
How to prevent a root canal?
Luckily, there are ways to maintain good oral health and avoid needing root canal treatment The main thing is to keep up good oral hygiene habits:
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Floss once a day
- Use a fluoride-based toothpaste
- Visit your dentist for a check up and clean every six months
- Avoid a high sugar diet
- Live a healthy lifestyle (avoid tobacco and limit alcohol consumption)
How Boon Dental can help
Hopefully, we have put your mind at ease by answering the question, does a root canal hurt? In short, no it shouldn’t be any more painful than having a cavity filled. Prevention is always better than cure, so if you think you have an infected root canal then give Boon Dental a call. We offer 24/7 emergency dental services and patient comfort is our number one priority.