Root canal appointment often conjures up feelings of dental anxiety. What is it about root canal treatment/therapy (RCT) that causes this trepidation?
It usually comes from the fact that so many of us have heard horror stories from friends and family members about how painful this procedure is. It can also come from not fully understanding the root canal process.
Some people, though, seem to have no problem with this sort of treatment. In fact, they go into the appointment experiencing discomfort and feel a sense of relief after the RCT is complete.
So, what’s the real story? Are root canals painful?
Today, I’ll explain how root canal treatment really works and whether they’re truly painful or not.
Root canals shouldn’t be painful
Are root canals painful? Actually, they shouldn’t be.
That’s not to say that some people haven’t experienced pain when they undergo the procedure.
This could be partly because the infection in the root of the tooth is causing inflammation. When the tooth is inflamed, it can take longer for anesthesia to take effect. This situation might also indicate the need for more doses of anesthetic.
Typically, if there’s an active infection, the dentist will also prescribe antibiotics prior to dental treatment. This will reduce the inflammation due to the infection, thereby making the procedure much more tolerable.
Combining antibiotics and anesthesia can be effective in preventing discomfort during a root canal treatment.
Sometimes, though, our patients show no signs of infections. Instead, they need a root canal because the nerve of their tooth is dead. Will they experience pain during an RCT?
When the nerve is dead, there’s nothing to feel (unless the tooth has become infected). The only sort of discomfort you might feel in this instance is jaw fatigue from holding your mouth open.
What to expect at your root canal treatment appointment
My goal today is to ease your mind about root canal treatment so as to reduce your anxiety during dental treatment.
To that end, I’d like to explain what a root canal is and what you can expect when you get one from your local Calgary dentist office in Seton.
The first thing I’ll do is numb the tooth. I’ll make sure to give the tooth sufficient time to react to the anesthesia, especially if there’s an infection.
Then, I’ll remove any decay or filling material in the tooth.
In order to get to the root of the teeth, I need to make an access line (or lines if the tooth has multiple roots, as is the case with molars). This line will go from the crown of the tooth, through the dentin, and finally into the root.
The root contains nerve tissue and blood vessels. I clean this out before filling in the empty space with a material called gutta percha. Filling the canals of the root can prevent further decay and/or infection down the road. It also adds some stability to the roots.
After this appointment, you’ll likely need to come back for a crown preparation appointment.
Now that you understand what happens during an RCT appointment, do you feel less apprehensive? What if you still experience anxiety?
We can help you with that! If you’re experiencing a lot of anxiety when you come into my Calgary dentist office, we can discuss various sedation options. We want to do all we can to make your visit to our office a comfortable one.
Talk to your Calgary dentist ASAP if you experience any sort of dental pain
Does dental pain automatically mean you need a root canal treatment?
Not at all. As a matter of fact, there are numerous reasons why someone experiences dental discomfort.
The reasons include:
- Gum disease
- Cracked Tooth Syndrome
- Malocclusion/Bite issues
- TMJ disorder
- Generalized cold sensitivity
I find that a lot of people start out experiencing a little discomfort but hold off on seeing a dentist until they’re in terrible pain. This is typically due to anxiety, the fear of needing dental treatment, and the pain that could result from it - because they keep wondering, “Are root canals painful?”
However, it’s important to remember that dental procedures will, ultimately, provide you with relief from pain.
And if we can get to the problem in the early stages, we can save you a lot of discomfort in the long run.
So, if you experience any sort of dental soreness, don’t wait – make an appointment to have the issue examined right away.
Seeing a dentist regularly is one step you can take to prevent dental pain. Contact my office to schedule an appointment for an exam and cleaning so we can nip any issues in the bud.
Dr. Jay Patel, DDS – Dentist Seton Calgary