Is a Root Canal Always Painful?

Root canal therapy has always had a reputation for being highly painful and uncomfortable. If you’re experiencing significant tooth pain or discomfort, however, these procedures can do a lot to relieve existing soreness and aches. A root canal can even go as far as saving your tooth.

A root canal may have been a painful experience in days gone by, but this is no longer the case. Thanks to dental technology and careful treatment methods, root canals can be no more uncomfortable than other common dental procedures, including cleanings, fillings, and bonding treatments.

Here’s what you need to know about root canals and how they can both alleviate short-term dental symptoms and protect your smile in the long term.

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a procedure that treats an infection located deep in the pulp of a tooth. To complete this procedure, your dentist will:

  1. Scan your smile, often with x-rays, to locate the source of infection and determine the course of treatment.
  2. Administer local anesthesia to numb the area completely and prepare for a pain-free procedure.
  3. Remove the infected dental pulp using specialized tools and solutions to remove harmful bacteria.
  4. Cleanse the tooth root and prepare the area for special protective filling material.
  5. Fill and seal the area with a special material that hardens to prevent future infection and support your tooth structure.
  6. Add a dental crown, if necessary, to protect your natural tooth and maintain a healthy bite.

In most cases, a root canal procedure happens over the course of at least two appointments to adequately treat and protect the tooth.

When Is a Root Canal Necessary?

Do you have a toothache that won’t go away? Is there unexplained swelling or tenderness in your gum line? You may need a root canal if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or sensitivity with hot or cold food and drinks.
  • Swelling or inflammation in your gums.
  • Tenderness and pain when chewing or biting down.
  • A loose or dislodged tooth.
  • A small abscess or bump near a toothache.

Are Root Canal Procedures Painful?

Fortunately, no. Root canals are not painful, nor the nightmarish experiences they’re rumored to be. Your dentist is equipped with effective anesthetic medications to make the affected area completely numb during the procedure, and apart from some soreness when you leave your dentist’s office, you’re more likely to feel better than you did before.

Root canals are more a remedy for dental pain than a cause. The discomfort accompanying a deep tooth infection can cause enough pain to make going about your daily tasks feel impossible. Root canals can provide much-needed relief from ongoing dental or facial pain that may have lasted for weeks before the procedure.

Is the Recovery Painful?

The numbing anesthetic wears off after a few hours, so you may experience sensitivity or tenderness near the site. If your tooth was particularly painful beforehand, it may take a couple of days to experience a reduction in discomfort.

However, this discomfort is easily, and sometimes completely, managed with over-the-counter painkillers and a soft food diet for a few days. Your dentist can guide you in your recovery to ensure even the slightest discomfort doesn’t interrupt your lifestyle.

Learn About Root Canal Treatment in Holladay

Do you suspect you and your smile might need a root canal? Smart Dental Care can help. Our experienced dental staff goes above and beyond to make your procedure as comfortable as possible.

Contact our practice with any questions about the process and to learn more about how root canal therapy can successfully save your smile.