Is a root canal painful? It’s a popular question. The word “root canal” makes patients’ eyes bulge out and ears perk up. But really, a root canal is a routine procedure and shouldn’t have such a bad reputation. Here’s five facts to ease your mind before your procedure.
Did you finally have the courage to talk your dentist about that sharp tooth pain, then find out you need a root canal? You are not alone. More than 15 million root canals are performed in the U.S. each year.
A root canal is needed when a tooth becomes irreversibly inflamed and damaged. The tooth’s dental pulp — often called the “nerve” — became exposed to bacteria, and therefore needs to be removed to deter further pain and infection.
In a nutshell, the infected nerve and pulp are removed during the root canal procedure. Then, the tooth’s interior is cleaned and sealed.
To absolve the procedure of its bad reputation, here are five facts to ease your mind before your procedure.
1. You’ll most likely experience immediate relief.
Personally, I think it’s cool when I find a nerve that’s hot and mad, because I know my patient is going to feel so much better after I drain the large abscess.
Sometimes, it takes two appointments for an infection to drain. But, once again, you will feel significant amounts of relief quickly.
2. You won’t feel anything during the procedure.
Although rumored to be severely painful, patients report the root canal procedure is the same as filling a cavity. And because your dentist will numb you, you should experience no pain during the procedure.
After the numbness wears off, though, you may experience some discomfort. For that, I recommend taking Tylenol or ibuprofen.
3. A root canal procedure is highly effective.
The procedure has a 95 percent success rate, meaning most teeth fixed with root canal therapy can last a lifetime.
4. Good dental hygiene can prevent a root canal.
Root canals are prevented the same way cavities are prevented. Brush and floss your teeth, and get regular check-ups. If you are experiencing tooth pain, see your dentist ASAP. It’s great if we can catch it early.
If you have a cavity, get it filled right away. If you don’t, it can lead to an infection, which can be dangerous.
5. If your tooth is gray, it’s possible for it to be white again.
If your affected tooth turns gray, your dentist can place cleaning agent — most commonly, sodium perborate — inside the empty pulp chamber of the discolored tooth to make it white again.
This is called internal bleaching, or bleaching endodontically.
Your tooth is likely discolored because your dentin was compromised by your root canal.
Other things to know:
- If you experience any of these nine symptoms — or, for that matter, have any type of
sharp tooth pain — call your dentist as soon as possible.
- You’ll most likely need a dental crown after your root canal. Click here to read about when and why a dental crown is necessary after a root canal, and here to discover more information about pricing and procedure.
I hope I’ve helped you realize that a root canal procedure isn’t as scary as it seems. It’s a very common procedure, and you should be back on your feet the next day. However, if you are still experiencing pain one week after the procedure, talk to your dentist.