Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?
“You need root canal therapy,” says your dentist. Amazing how this simple sentence sends shudders down one’s back. It ranks with such famous lines as “whadda you mean we don’t have a spare tire.” Who was that person I saw your spouse with in the movies?” and the ever popular boss line “Can you please step into my office”. We have been programmed to cringe in absolute fear when hearing these words.
Well, the one about Root Canal Therapy is a misnomer, a myth, and an old joke from the 1960s.
What was once an Alfred Hitchcock scary experience is now a simple, pleasant, gentle procedure that alleviates pain. A root canal in 2021, in the hands of an expert like Dr. Steven Lipner, is as relaxing as a manicure.
Why Do We Need Root Canal Therapy?
- Broken tooth exposing the pulp (nerve) of the tooth
- Decay that extends into the pulp chamber
- Trauma to the jaw (i.e. sports, fall, auto accident)
- Pain on percussion
- Pain with hot and cold
- Pain upon lying down
- A bump or swelling in the gum coupled with fever and malaise
What is Root Canal Therapy?
- Clinical exam coupled with intraoral radiographs
- Topical anesthesia is followed by local anesthesia that entirely numbs the tooth and the area that was painful prior to treatment. At this point, all pre-operative pain is gone.
- A rubber dam is placed over the infected tooth, which isolates it from the rest of the mouth.
- A tiny hole is drilled into the top of the tooth so that tiny files can be placed into the pulp chamber.
- The infected tissue is removed, the chamber is reamed and filed.
- The chamber is sterilized, irrigated, and filled with an inert material called gutta-percha.
- A temporary filling is placed.
- Dr. Lipner will refer you back to your original dentist for the placement of a crown.
What About the Pain?
By removing the infected pulp material inside your tooth, the infection and pain that was present before treatment will now be gone. Most patients feel very little discomfort after treatment.
Dr. Lipner will place patients on antibiotics and pain medication when they are needed.
Post-op discomfort is rare and minimal.
The amount of discomfort depends on:
- How severe infection was before treatment
- How severe tooth was broken or decayed
- Gum and bone condition supporting the tooth
- If the tooth ever treated for root canal therapy before
If there is severe pain prior to treatment that means that the tooth is:
There are only two options of treatment at this point.
- Root canal therapy which is conservative and saves the tooth.
- Extraction, which may be followed by an implant, abutment, and crown.
Each root canal case is unique. When the pulp chamber is violated and the pulp (nerve) is exposed it will die (necrose). As it dies gases are given off due to the invasion of anaerobic bacteria. An infection can form that can lead to an abscess or even worse cellulitis.
When these conditions occur, patients have discomfort, pain. It is this pain that alerts them that something is wrong and brings them to Midtown Endodontist NYC.
So the cause and time spent before treatment, the patient’s pre-existing health condition all factor into how much pain there is prior to treatment. Root canal therapy alleviates that pain.
- Usually minimal.
- Dependent on how bad the infection was prior to treatment.
- Controlled well with antibiotics and analgesic medications when necessary.
- Follow-up treatment with a dentist is a must for the placement of the core and crown. The patient will be advised not to eat on the treated tooth until properly restored.
- Some patients have a little discomfort in the muscles in their face, due to keeping their mouth open for an hour, this dissipates in 24 hours, patients are advised to be on a soft diet.
- All pain is typically gone in 48 hours after treatment.
- If pain persists, more than 72 hours, patients are advised to return to Midtown Endodontist NYC for a follow-up visit.
Make an Appointment with Midtown Endodontist NYC
Dr. Lipner is a root canal specialist who uses a microscope to do incredibly precise, conservative, and effective work. He saves teeth (infinitely better than extractions and implants) and alleviates pain. If you need Root Canal Therapy don’t grimace, just call Dr. Lipner, he will put the smile back on your face.