Getting to the Root: Are Root Canals Painful?

Do your teeth (or tooth) suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Heat or cold sensitivity?
  • Discomfort while chewing?
  • Swollen or bleeding gums?

If you struggle with one or more of these, you may be due for a root canal with your dentist any time soon.

A root canal is an endodontic procedure performed to remove infected material. A root canal usually results from infected or decayed teeth, cracked teeth, a tooth that has been fractured after a dental procedure or large fillings, or trauma to the face.

Common Misconceptions

Do not believe these myths as you are getting to the root of your annoying tooth problems:

  • There is no pain in a root canal, just numbness. For example, if you suffer from mild toothache and have never had a dental procedure before, you will experience some discomfort during the treatment.
  • It is safe to use regular toothpaste if you have had a root canal. Do not use chemical toothpaste because it has ingredients that can damage the inside of the tooth. If your teeth feel sensitive after the treatment, use a toothpaste containing fluoride.

When Is It Needed?

Aside from the symptoms mentioned earlier, you may need a root canal from your dentist when:

  • You experience excruciating pain while chewing.
  • You feel sensitivity when you eat hot or cold foods and drinks.
  • Your tooth looks discolored due to the pulp infection.
  • Your gums swell due to infection. 
  • Your tooth is chipped or cracked, and bacteria get in through the crack and cause inflammation and infection. 
  • Your tooth feels loose; this is quite possibly due to the roots of the tooth having shrunk due to chronic inflammation and that they no longer provide a strong enough bond. 
  • Your gums near the affected tooth have a nodule, which is also a sign of an infection, and may even start to ooze pus.

Getting to the Root: Is It Painful?

In a nutshell, no, root canals are not painful. They have a high chance of success and are pain-free since dentists use anesthetic to numb the nerves around the affected area. 

How Is It Done?

To calm your nerves and worries further, here’s a step-by-step guide to how a dentist performs a root canal:

  • Before any procedure, the dentist may take an X-ray of the infected tooth to understand the damage better and determine how extensive it is. 
  • Next, the dentist numbs the area to eliminate pain and reduce anxiety about the procedure. 
  • Once anesthesia is administered, the dentist removes the pulp from within the root canal. 
  • Then, a rubber dam is placed around your teeth to block any chemicals from getting into your mouth and keep them dry; this step is essential so that no water damage occurs to your body while undergoing treatment.
  • Next, the dentist cleans and enlarges the root canal to make it regular-shaped to be filled. 
  • Finally, an antibiotic ointment is used to seal up and strengthen the tooth to prevent infection. The filling provides a barrier that protects against further infection of your tooth.

After successful treatment, your tooth will return to full functionality without any pain. It is essential to brush your teeth and floss regularly to prevent recurring infections and damage. It is also necessary to follow up with regular visits to your dentist.

However, immediately consult your dentist if you still suffer from mild pain a week after the procedure.


Given the facts mentioned above, it should be clear that a root canal is not the end of the world. You just need the proper treatment to get it cleaned. Now that you know what a root canal is, go to your dentist and get the process done today.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Holladay, Utah, who can perform root canals, Smart Dental Care is the place for you! We offer services for all your dental needs, from cavities to dentures to whitening and beyond! We also provide same-day crowns and have 3D imaging technology. We’re proud of all the dental services we have to offer, and we’re happy to answer any of your dental questions when you come in for a consultation right now!