Does root canal treatment hurt? - No more than a filling!
Root canal surgery - three words that can fill a patient with fear but is that really justified? The short answer would be no.
Rather than being a painful surgery, the issue with root canal surgery (endodontics) is that it is complicated – but that fact should only really be a concern to the highly skilled endodontist carrying out the treatment.
As with any other dental procedure where there is a chance of the patient experiencing pain, local anaesthetic is used to thoroughly numb the area before root canal surgery begins. This, of course, will make the actual root canal surgery painless and patients can expect no more pain than when having a filling fitted.
While the focus on root canal treatment seems to have shifted to how complicated and painful it might be, in reality the surgery should be celebrated as it helps to save healthy teeth.
Why do people need root canal treatment?
The root canal runs from just underneath the top of the tooth down to the bottom and contains dental pulp, which is essentially the nerve centre of a tooth.
When the pulp becomes infected by bacteria it begins to die. Rather than ending the problem this actually worsens it as the bacteria levels then increase and enter the root canal.
The problem with this is, inevitably, it is painful. Bacteria within the root canal can cause pain when chewing, swollen gums and even a swollen face, while pus can also come from the infected tooth.
Unfortunately, the problem will not go away on its own and the tooth either needs the bacteria to be cleared out during root canal surgery or the tooth needs to be removed.
Is root canal treatment painful?
Root canal surgery itself should be no more painful than a routine treatment, on account of the area being numbed with local anaesthetic. The infection itself can be painful, but the job of an endodontist is to remove the cause of that pain and repair the tooth.
While you may experience some discomfort afterwards and will need to be careful when eating and brushing your teeth, this should not be a cause for concern.
Does the treatment make you ill?
There is no recent scientific evidence that shows that root canal surgery can make you ill – at worst after treatment you may wish to take painkillers to help with any discomfort.
While some people have raised concerns that root canal treatment can cause bacteria to become trapped in the tooth, dental professionals regard it as a highly effective treatment that relieves pain.
If your root canal surgery turns out to be particularly difficult there is a possibility that a second treatment may be needed to completely clear the bacteria, although this is unusual.
To save or lose the tooth? That is the question
The purpose of root canal surgery is to save the tooth. Without the option of root canal surgery the tooth would certainly have to be removed as this is the only other way to get rid of the bacteria inside.
Without treatment the pain will persist and the tooth will continue to be infected. Root canal surgery is an effective way to resolve the problem – and save the tooth.
Why is it important to save the tooth? All dentists work to protect the natural teeth as much as possible. Natural teeth give better function and support the structure of the face.
In the event that you did have a tooth removed, to maintain a natural looking smile you would be looking at having a dental implant fitted, which is a lengthier and more expensive process than root canal surgery.
Saving the natural tooth is always the best option – and when there is an alternative to extraction, such as root canal surgery that should always be the number one choice.
Under the care of a skilled and experienced endodontist, root canal surgery should be largely pain free, effective and a huge relief when the pain of the infection subsides.
If you are experiencing pain in your teeth and suspect you may have an infection contact Birmingham Dental Referral Group.
First Floor, 735 Hagley Rd W, Quinton, Birmingham B32 1DJ
0121 422 3134