Does a Root Canal Procedure Hurt?

root canal Santa Ana, CA

The root canal has a reputation for being one of the more painful procedures that a patient can endure in the dental chair. It is safe to say that root canals are responsible for a good number of people with a phobia of the dentist. Is this reputation accurate?

No, it is not, for two reasons. First, the pain of avoiding a necessary root canal is worse and more enduring than the procedure could ever be. Second, dentistry has come a long way from the days of old. Innovations like anesthesia and sedation dentistry make dental procedures pain-free and uneventful. This article explores how.

About the root canal procedure

A root canal is a treatment option for injured or infected dental pulp. The procedure can also treat a large cavity. The pain that results from an inner tooth in distress is excruciating. Not even the reputed pain of a root canal compares with a toothache that gets in the way of a good night’s rest.

In a nutshell, a root canal is the removal of infected, injured or dead soft tissue that lies behind the enamel and dentin. The treatment allows a dentist to save the outer structure of the tooth, which saves the tooth from extraction. Sometimes, the infection spreads from the pulp to the surrounding structures, and the dentist will be sure to remove all of the infection.

Pain management for a root canal procedure

A patient with an infected tooth will need to take a course of antibiotics in preparation for their root canal. The antibiotics deal with the pain and swelling, which goes a long way in pain management during the procedure.

When the patient sits in the dentist’s chair, they will receive a topical anesthetic in the form of a gel or ointment. The anesthetic numbs the target area such that the patient feels no pain as the dentist injects a local anesthetic. A skilled dentist will administer said anesthetic accounting for the patient’s nerve anatomy and their tolerance to pain medication. For the person who experiences anxiety in the dentist’s chair, the dentist will administer a sedative to help with relaxation. All these measures eliminate any chance of pain during the root canal procedure.

Aftercare and pain management

It takes a couple of hours for the anesthesia to wear off after a root canal. Before the patient leaves the dentist’s office, they will receive a prescription for pain medication. The dentist will also advise them on how to take care of their tooth as it heals from the procedure. Here are a few of those tips:

  • Use pain medication as directed by the dentist
  • Minimize activity for a day
  • Apply a cold compress next to the affected tooth, on the outside of the mouth
  • Sleep with the head elevated for comfort
  • Eat soft foods to avoid trauma to the tooth
  • Avoid extreme heat or cold when it comes to food
  • Observe the oral hygiene routine recommended by the dentist

In the days following the procedure, a person may experience a little soreness and tooth sensitivity. This goes away with the help of the above tips, and the person can resume their daily routine almost immediately. However, severe and persistent pain is cause for worry, as is swelling, bleeding, and fever. These are all reasons to seek medical attention.

Do not learn to live with tooth pain

There are few things that can rob you of sleep like a throbbing toothache can. Do not let it. Call us to book an appointment to get that tooth fixed. Our dentist will have you back to your old self in no time at all. If a root canal is what you need to restore your tooth to health, the dentist will make it quick, thorough, and painless.

Request an appointment here: or call Bright Smile Dental at (714) 361-9308 for an appointment in our Santa Ana office.

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