How Painful Is a Root Canal?

Team Endodontics, Root Canal

It’s common for patients to feel nervous about their upcoming root canals. Unfortunately, root canals have a reputation for being unpleasant, but you’ll be relieved to find out that most patients find the experience of having root canal treatment to be easier than anticipated. In fact, root canals are commonly used to relieve dental and facial pain, so our patients often leave our office feeling better than when they came in. If you’re uncertain about what to expect from root canal therapy, we explain the process in detail below.

How Much Pain to Expect During a Root Canal

We perform root canal treatment to address infected or inflamed pulp tissue, which can cause severe toothaches. This pain can be alleviated with endodontic therapy. For many patients, getting a root canal is no more painful than getting a cavity filled thanks to the use of local anesthetic and modern endodontic techniques. Most people report feeling comfortable throughout their procedure, feeling pressure and movement at times, but not pain.

Endodontic treatment starts by using local anesthetic to numb the affected tooth and the tissue surrounding it. Then, the tooth is opened so one of our doctors can access the pulp in order to remove it. The chamber and roots of the tooth are cleaned, shaped, and disinfected, then filled with a rubber-like material to seal the tooth and prevent infection. Your general dentist will restore the treated tooth using a dental filling or crown.

It’s common for patients to experience immediate relief upon leaving our office, especially if they have been suffering with dental or facial pain in the days or weeks prior to their appointment. Despite the myths about root canal treatment, this procedure is a relatively quick, comfortable way to save natural teeth from needing to be extracted and replaced. 

Pain After a Root Canal Procedure

As the local anesthetic wears off in the hours after your root canal treatment, you may begin to experience some sensitivity and tenderness. This is especially true if the tooth in question was infected or painful prior to your root canal treatment.

This sensitivity is typically minor and can be managed with over-the-counter analgesics, including aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. We suggest eating soft foods and avoiding chewing with the treated tooth until the discomfort has resolved, but you should be able to continue with work, school, and your other activities as you normally would.

In most cases, sensitivity only lasts for a few days after root canal therapy. If you continue to experience pain beyond this time, call our office and we can determine whether you should come in for an evaluation.

Learn More About Root Canal Procedures

Have you been told by your dentist that you need root canal treatment? Do you have questions about the root canal process and what you can expect from endodontic therapy? Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation with an endodontist at one of our six North Shore and Boston-area locations.