Mish Sachdev

Does a Root Canal Procedure Hurt?


When a patient finds out that a root canal is necessary, there is normally an assumption that the procedure is going to be traumatic and painful, but this is not the case. The idea that root canals hurt and cause significant pain largely originated from the past, in which root canal treatment was often quite painful. Subsequently, individuals would often avoid the procedures at all costs. However, modern day dentists utilise pain-relieving measures throughout the treatment which ensure that pain is dealt with resulting in a root canal being a comfortable experience.

Before the procedure begins a local anaesthetic will be applied. While some pressure may be felt during the process, there should not be any significant pain during the actual procedure. Following the local anaesthetic effects wearing off there may be some initial mild sensitivity, related to the cleaning process. While this can cause an individual to feel uncomfortable at first, any potential pain or sensitivity should only last a few days and will be manageable using over the counter painkillers. This includes paracetamol and ibuprofen, although you should check with your doctor beforehand to ensure they can be taken with any existing medication. You can also minimize the pain by avoiding hard food immediately following the procedure, as chewing into these foods may cause discomfort.

Root canal pain in the majority of cases decreases over time and if pain is still experienced then you should discuss with your dentist. They may increase your current pain medication level and recommend prescription-strength ibuprofen. These should only be taken on a temporary basis and should offer sufficient pain relief.

Another solution could be to offer further cleaning sessions, as although 1-2 sessions for a root canal is normal, further sessions may help reduce pain. A crown may also be utilised to prevent future damage to the delicate tooth.

The aforementioned solutions to managing pain are generally short to medium term solutions. If the procedure has been completed successfully, you should not experience any further pain. Root canal treatment generally has high success rates but there are times when it doesn’t work. If this is the case, the tooth will either need to be taken out or you may require treatment by a specialist endodontist.

Good oral health practices are probably the most important forms of increasing the longevity of the teeth. This also not only alleviates pain but can also help keep your existing teeth and crown in good condition for many years in the future. These practices include brushing teeth a minimum of two times a day, as well as daily flossing and use of mouthwash. Additionally, there should be a reduction in the amount of sugary foods or drinks consumed due to the damage this can have on your teeth. Regular dental visits and cleanings should also be scheduled to keep teeth healthy, and free from potential infections.

If you are worried that you may need a root canal  and are seeking professional further advice, we can help.