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If you have been told you need a root canal (also known as endodontic) treatment, you probably have a number of questions about the procedure. Your first question is most likely, “Is a root canal painful?” Answering this and other questions can help set your mind at ease for a more relaxing experience at Kelmscott Dental.
What is a Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal treatment is a common dental procedure performed to save teeth that would otherwise require removal (1). The dental pulp is a soft tissue containing nerves and blood vessels inside the root canals of each tooth. This tissue forms your teeth when you are young but has no essential function once the tooth completes formation.
If one of your teeth becomes inflamed or infected, the tissue inside the tooth may also become infected and needs removing. A root canal treatment removes the infected pulp from the tooth root and replaces the empty canals with root canal filling, and then seals the tooth with a crown.
The Causes of a Root Canal
There are several causes of an infected tooth, such as:
- Deep tooth decay
- Defective tooth restoration
- Fractured tooth
- Trauma (2)
- Advanced gum disease
- Teeth grinding
- Repeated dental fillings or crowns on a tooth
How do You Know if You Need a Root Canal?
A tooth can become infected without you knowing about it. An infection only shows up on x-rays during a routine dental exam. This is one of the reasons why regular dental check-ups and appointments are so important. However, most root canals cause one or more of these symptoms (3):
- Severe pain
Any pain in your mouth needs a dental evaluation. Still, certain kinds of pain require immediate attention and indicate the need for a root canal. A sudden or spontaneous pain that persists indicates a possible root canal. This is especially true of pain that wakes you up at night.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
Several things can cause sensitivity to hot and cold. If the sensation goes away quickly, you probably need dental care other than a root canal treatment. However, if the sensitivity or pain lingers long after you eat or drink the food, that indicates a probable root canal treatment.
- Bump on your gum
An infected tooth can cause swelling to appear on your gum beside the tooth. The swollen area can be tender to touch, or it may drain through a small hole and cause no pain at all. When the infection drains, it can look like a pimple on your gum.
- Discoloured tooth
When you bump a tooth, the pulp can instantly bleed inside the tooth and turn it a darker colour. Trauma like this frequently happens during sports and automobile accidents. The tooth turns lighter after the root canal treatment. Still, it may require further cosmetic dental treatment such as teeth whitening, a dental veneer, or a dental crown.
Does a Root Canal Hurt?
The reputation that root canals hurt began decades before dentistry made significant advancements in root canal treatments. The technological innovations and modern dental anaesthetics make having a root canal treatment as comfortable as having a simple filling.
Many teeth receiving a root canal treatment have significant pain and swelling at the time of treatment. So, while the treatment does not hurt, the tooth itself may hurt. This pain stops after a root canal treatment, but can take a few days to completely stop.
Most root canal treatments only require a local anaesthetic, however we can provide a range of sedation options to allow nervous patients to receive the dental care they need. We offer oral sedation, happy gas, sleep dentistry and general anaesthetic administered at South Bank Day Surgery to ensure you have a relaxed and stress-free experience.
Is There Pain After a Root Canal?
After a root canal is performed, the tooth is sealed and strengthened using a dental crown or filling. It’s common to experience soreness for a few days after root canal treatment. You’ll receive post-operative care instructions on how to manage discomfort, but you should call our practice immediately if you experience severe pain that does not improve after taking pain relief.