How Painful are Root Canals?


Root canals today are not painful at all. They also don’t take much longer to perform than it takes to have a tooth filled. The entire area surrounding the affected tooth will be completely numbed, so you won’t feel anything. Here is what to expect during a root canal, also known as root canal therapy. 

What happens during a root canal?

Before your dentist begins to remove the infection and clean out the pulp of the tooth, the area will be completely anesthetized. After ensuring the area is completely numb, your dentist will drill a small hole in the surface of the tooth to access the interior pulp chamber. Decay will be removed, and the entire pulp chamber will be disinfected. The canals may be reshaped to prevent future infection.

The pulp chamber will be filled with a special material to seal it, and the hole that was drilled in the tooth will be filled. You will be fitted for a permanent crown, and the order will be sent to the lab. You’ll leave your appointment with a temporary crown. In a few weeks once your permanent crown has been received by the lab you will return to have it permanently bonded to the treated tooth. 

Most people return to work, school, or normal activities after root canal therapy. The anesthesia may take a couple of hours to wear off. It is normal to feel a bit of discomfort after the anesthesia wears off. This should be manageable with over-the-counter medications. Over the next few days, you may experience some swelling or tenderness. This is not a cause for concern. Within days, any mild discomfort will resolve. 

The follow-up appointment to have your permanent crown attached is painless as well. Many patients do not need anesthesia for this procedure. If you have sensitive teeth, your dentist will offer to numb a portion of your mouth for the crown placement. 

Are there any alternatives to a root canal?

The only alternative to a root canal is to have the affected tooth extracted. You mustn’t ignore or delay treatment for a tooth that is infected. Bacteria in an infected tooth can begin to spread to nearby bones and tissues, such as the jaw. The bacteria can enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation. In worst cases, the infection can reach your heart leading to serious conditions such as endocarditis and myocarditis. 

If you choose to have the tooth extracted (which dentists do not recommend if it can be saved with a root canal), you should plan to have a dental implant. A dental implant is a far superior restorative treatment than a dental bridge.

Dental implants mimic the function of the crown of the tooth and the roots of the tooth. Without a dental implant, the jawbone will begin to recede. This can alter the shape of your face and jaw, leading to a sunken, aged appearance. Dental implants, however, preserve the jaw bone, preventing premature signs of aging and an unwelcome change in your facial appearance. 

Schedule an Appointment for a Root Canal in Manhattan

Leaving a badly decayed or infected tooth untreated poses serious risks to your oral health and your overall health. If you’re experiencing symptoms of an infected tooth such as new sensitivity to sweet food, throbbing, or shooting pain in a tooth, contact Glassman Dental Care to schedule an appointment immediately by calling 212-787-4860. You may also text our office at 917-451-7140, or request an appointment online.