Painful Root Canal – Is It Painful to Get a Root Canal?didsburyadmin
People across the world suffer from a fear of dentists. Whether that be because of the hospital-style backdrop of the dentist’s office, or fear of surgical equipment, many find it hard to book appointments, and much harder to see them through. In fact, studies have found that dental anxiety, or dental fear, is estimated to affect approximately 36% of the population, with a further 12% suffering from extreme dental fear.
However, most people are actually scared of the pain that is associated with dentists. One of the main issues is regarding how painful root canals are. Research suggests that root canals are highly common procedures, with over 14 million performed each year. Because of its frequency, it is often one of the most feared procedures.
A root canal is a procedure used to treat an infection at the centre of a tooth. To a non-specialist, this can sound like an extremely painful and damaging solution to an already painful and damaging problem.
Fear created by assumptions like these has led the dental profession to call on urgent government support amidst reports that over 19 million appointments have been missed since 2020.
This article will focus on helping you to understand how painful root canals can be, how they are done and how they can help you. Keep reading to find out everything about root canals, how they work and whether or not they are painful.
What Is A Root Canal?
A root canal is often understood to be a painful procedure that many struggles to bear, with some even choosing to miss appointments and refuse to show up for treatment because of it. Additionally, in more recent years, it has become one of the most under-assigned treatments for tooth infection because of the stigma attached to it, negatively impacting the quality of treatment around the world.
A root canal is a go-to procedure for when oral bacteria invade the pulp inside of your tooth. This usually happens when a cavity is left untreated for a long time. It can also occur if your tooth becomes cracked or damaged due to trauma. When the pulp is exposed, bacteria is able to find its way towards it more easily, as the protective ‘shell’ around it is gone. Ultimately, this will lead to infection and a build-up of bacteria, which can be both painful and damaging in the long term.
The reason that it is called a root canal is due to the fact that the procedure cleans the canals inside of a tooth’s root. This is done to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth instead of removing it, which for many is the most comfortable of the two options. Because of the already-present pain, as well as the threat of a potentially invasive procedure, many choose to ignore recommendations and refuse to get a root canal out of fear of additional pain. In reality, it can be a swift solution to the issue, and in most cases will completely remove any pain.
Most often, a root canal is performed when the endodontist removes the infected pulp and nerve in the root of the tooth, cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal and then fills and seals the space. This is done by removing the cap of the tooth to get inside, surgically separating the pulp and nerve in the roots and cleaning out the infection. In most cases, a local anaesthetic will be used for the procedure, especially when the nerve of the tooth is being severed, removed or otherwise touched. This is to numb the pain felt by the patient, as the nerve will be the most sensitive part of the tooth.
The procedure is extremely helpful for those suffering from pain and discomfort as a result of a tooth infection. Reports have found that 98% of root canals last one year, 92% last five years, and 86% last ten years or longer. Additionally, molars treated by endodontists had a 10-year survival rate, significantly higher than that of molars treated by general dentists. Root canals can be a long-term solution to tooth infection for many, making it highly valuable and most definitely worth undergoing.
How Does A Root Canal Work?
A root canal is necessary when bacteria invade the dental pulp. The pulp is the innermost part of the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. Once bacteria enter (either through a dental cavity or crack), they will spread all the way down to the root. After the infection has reached the root, it can continue into your jaw or, if the tooth is below the sinus, it can spread to create a sinus infection, which could cause you to develop sepsis if left untreated.
When bacteria invade the dental pulp, it has a chance to create a tooth abscess. A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that’s caused by a bacterial infection. The abscess can occur in different areas of the tooth, such as the root and the tip, and can be caused by a crack or cavity that has allowed bacteria to enter.
A dentist will observe your tooth and assess whether or not you have common symptoms, such as intense toothache, pain in your gums, redness inside the mouth, sensitivity to hot or cold food and sensitivity to drinks. If you meet the criteria, it will be recommended that you book an appointment for a root canal.
To begin with, the tooth will be drained of any pus and fluids relating to the infection to provide relief and minimise the pressure on the nerve. This will treat any abscesses that have developed and can help to make it easier to see where the point of infection is. After this, a dentist will attempt to save your tooth with a root canal treatment.
In most cases, the root canal procedure is completed in two separate visits to ensure that the tooth is thoroughly cleaned out, sealed up, and protected from further damage. The first visit is when dentists will observe the tooth, drain it from fluids and temporarily repair it for a later visit. In the second visit, the dentist will remove the cap of the tooth, remove the infected pulp and nerve, refill the tooth and reseal the cap to prevent a repeat infection from happening.
The way that root canals are completed is normally regarded as highly effective; in about 9 out of 10 cases a tooth can survive for up to 10 years after root canal treatment before needing to be looked at again. However, with that being said, it is known that 5% of root canals fail, and sometimes it is not the fault of the dentist – in some cases, teeth can have multiple roots, and it is possible that only one root was infected and filled, leaving the infection to spread to the others.
How Painful Root Canals Are
One of the biggest misconceptions for patients waiting for a root canal is that it will be an incredibly painful procedure. In most cases, this procedure can be one of the easiest they have ever had to get – the nerve will be numbed along with the surrounding area to ensure that little to no pain is felt.
A root canal treatment is not painful and can be a great way to save a tooth that might otherwise have to be removed completely. For many patients, getting a root canal is no more painful than getting a cavity filled thanks to the use of local anaesthetic and modern endodontic techniques. We found through experience that with adequate anaesthesia, root canal treatment is usually painless.
However, it is not abnormal for the tooth to hurt following the procedure. Although the nerve-filled tooth pulp is removed from your tooth, there will still be other nerves and sensitive tissues near the canal of your tooth, and these can become irritated and swollen or inflamed after your endodontic treatment, causing some minor discomfort.
Some practices, such as Didsbury Dental Practice, offer the option of sedation for more nervous clients alongside numbing the mouth fully before any surgery occurs. They also kindly provide an entire course of pain medication after the surgery to control any discomfort you may face, which should be minimal.
So, Are Root Canals Painful?
We hope that you feel more confident in understanding the process behind professional root canals and the procedures surrounding them.
Whilst pain is relevant to the patient when asked, “how painful root canals are?”, we feel confident in saying that at our practice, they are not. Although you may experience discomfort during the healing process at home, it will be no more painful than any other procedure you could undergo. However, the quality and care of our dentists and staff ensure that the healing process can be completed quickly for a swift resolution to your pain.