Root canal treatment is often associated with pain, but this is one of the biggest myths surrounding root canals. If you get severe pain during your root canal or after the treatment, this is not common. A good dentist will make the procedure as pain-free as possible and will speak to you about how to keep any discomfort or pain away after treatment. This article will help you answer the question asking how painful is a root canal

What Does a Root Canal Involve?

Understanding what happens during a root canal can help you understand why there may be some pain and discomfort after treatment. This is usually mild and most people return to work the same day. Any pain can be treated at home. After the area is numbed, the infected tooth will be opened up, through the crown. The pulp, which is the soft tissue inside the tooth, is the part of the tooth that is infected. 

Any infected pulp will be taken out of the tooth and the tooth will be cleaned. The root canal will need to be shaped, so that a filling such as a crown can then be secured in place. For your root canal to go well, you must follow the aftercare advice given by your dentist. 

How Painful Can a Root Canal Be?

Pain is a subjective state, but this is not the same as discomfort or anxiety. For many, dental procedures can cause some discomfort, but this is more due to keeping your mouth open for a long period of time. While any dental procedure can cause mild discomfort, it should not cause pain. As a root canal is a treatment that involves removing infection from the tooth, you may experience some pain after the treatment as the tooth heals.

During the treatment, your dentist will provide you with anesthetic, which will numb the infected area. If you feel severe pain during your root canal, you must speak to your dentist straight away as it may mean you need slightly more anesthetic. Your dentist should always check the area is numb before beginning. The anesthetic is given with an injection in the gums, which is usually the only part of the procedure you will be able to feel. Whilst this can cause mild pain, this is normal and will only last a few seconds.

Root Canal Aftercare

To ensure that your root canal does not cause any pain afterwards, you must care for the tooth properly. Your dentist will tell you everything you need to know but you must follow what they say to avoid pain. After the treatment, you can expect your mouth to be numb for a few hours. You should avoid eating or drinking anything during this time as you may experience pain if you accidentally bite your tongue or cheeks.

For a few days following treatment, you may only be able to eat soft foods. This is completely normal, and you should not rush to eat anything too hard to chew until the pain begins to subside. You should use over-the-counter painkillers, especially ibuprofen. This can reduce the swelling and pain that occurs after a root canal, and before the tooth has healed. You should keep yourself topped up with medication for a few days as if you stop taking it you will need to build it back up in your system again.

Your dentist will also let you know when you can begin brushing again. Good dental hygiene after a root canal is essential so the area does not get infected again. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush as this will cause the least pain. Do not brush hard around the area of the root canal. If you have more than one appointment, you may not have a proper crown or filling over the area until the second appointment. Avoid eating on the side where you have a temporary filling. 

Complications Following a Root Canal

Complications are rare following a root canal, but occasionally infection can reoccur. While feeling some pain is normal, severe pain after a root canal is never normal. If you cannot go back to work or normal life, you must speak to your dentist immediately. Signs that there is a complication include swelling around the tooth or jaw, fever, or feeling generally unwell. 

Even if the root canal was successful, some teeth require a further root canal later on as the tooth has become infected again. If this happens, you may choose to get another root canal, or the removal of the tooth may be a better option. If this happens, your dentist will discuss your options with you. 

Do not let myths around pain stop you from getting a root canal. While any dental treatment can cause mild pain or discomfort, an infection can cause more pain, as well as the loss of teeth and other dental concerns. If you need a root canal, and are worried about pain, speak to your dentist who can help put your mind at ease.