Is Getting a Root Canal Painful?

If your dentist says you need a root canal, don't panic! Root canal therapy isn't usually any more painful than having a filling or other routine dental treatment, as local anaesthetic will be used to numb your mouth.

In fact, root canal treatment makes pain and sensitivity go away. The sooner you can get treatment, the sooner you can say goodbye to the pain of a damaged or infected tooth.

beautiful teeth

Why does my tooth hurt?

There can be many reasons for toothache, but if you also have some of the following symptoms, you could have an infected tooth:

  • tooth pain when eating
  • teeth feel sensitive to temperature
  • your tooth looks darker
  • your tooth feels loose
  • swelling in your gums, face or neck

Teeth become infected when bacteria reaches the soft tissue inside, called the dental pulp. This can happen if the enamel is worn down over time by tooth decay or erosion, or it can happen suddenly if your tooth gets chipped or cracked.

Root canal therapy (endodontic treatment) involves removing the infected tissue to save the tooth. If a tooth is too badly damaged or infected, the only alternative might be tooth extraction. Dentists only extract a tooth as a last resort if there's no chance of saving it.

What happens during root canal treatment?

Your dentist will explain what the procedure involves so you know what to expect. Depending on the type of tooth being treated, this could take several visits to complete.

The first stage is the removal of the infected tissue, which is done by drilling into the tooth and carefully extracting the pulp. Your dentist will then clean the inside of the tooth to remove all traces of bacteria and prepare it for a synthetic filling.

Once the tooth has been filled, it's restored to its original shape with either a white filling or a custom dental crown, depending on how much restoration is needed. This leaves the tooth looking and functioning just like it did before, but free from pain.

Will my tooth hurt after a root canal?

It's normal to feel some pain after a dental treatment. Your dentist might recommend over-the-counter pain relief or home remedies such as an icepack to help you manage pain, swelling and other side-effects during your recovery.

With the dental pulp removed, your tooth won't feel as sensitive as before when you eat or drink something hot or cold, but it will still function normally and it needs to be cared for just like your other teeth.

What if I'm scared of the dentist?

If you're nervous about visiting the dentist and avoid your appointments, problems with your teeth will take longer to be diagnosed and treated. This can mean you'll suffer for longer and it may be less likely that an infected tooth can be saved.

At St Heliers Dental Centre, we try to make going to the dentist a positive experience. Our caring dentists and hygienists have a relaxing bedside manner and we make sure you're always informed about what's happening.

If you need a little more help to relax, we can also discuss sedation options to help you feel more calm during your treatment.

Talk to a dentist in Auckland

If you're worried about a painful tooth, or it's time for your regular check-up and clean, contact our friendly team at St Heliers Dental Centre. Call (09) 575 5814 to speak to our Auckland dentists or make an appointment online.