Is a Root Canal Painful?

Root canals are infamous. They are supposedly the benchmark for the most unpleasant experiences in life. When people want to say that an experience was really bad and excruciatingly painful, they will compare them to a root canal.

You have to understand that the reputation of root canals goes back a long time, and has been passed down through our culture like a legend, and doesn’t reflect the reality of modern root canals. The first root canals were performed in the mid-eighteenth century, more than 100 years before modern dental anesthesia was demonstrated. A root canal involves the extraction of the nerve of the tooth, the part of the tooth that registers pain, so you can bet that if this procedure were performed without anesthesia you would feel a lot of pain. But that’s not how we do things today.

Today, most people report that the pain of a root canal is far less than the pain they have been dealing with because of their infected tooth.

Pain Control for Root Canals

Today, we have many methods for effectively controlling pain during your root canal procedure. We can utilize topical anesthesia first so you don’t even feel the prick of the needle that injects anesthesia that can completely numb the area where the root canal is being performed. Nerve blocks can be used to numb an entire branch of your nerves to create a more widespread anesthesia effect. For people with extensive need for treatment or reasons why it might be beneficial, we can use general anesthesia to completely eliminate pain sensations during the root canal procedure.

After your root canal, we have many options for pain medications, though most people don’t need it. With the tooth nerve gone, most of the potential for pain has been removed, and you’ll feel sensitivity related to the pressure on the tooth from removing enamel and entering the tooth interior. Lingering discomfort from a root canal may be no worse than that of getting a dental crown.

Variables That Affect Your Level of Pain

It’s important to remember that pain is subjective and varies greatly from person to person. Your level of discomfort will vary depending on:

  • Personal sensitivity

  • Your attitude to pain

  • Your level of anxiety

  • The structure of your tooth and the exact treatment needed

To attempt to gauge your level of sensitivity, we will talk to you about your pain experiences during prior dental work. We will also talk to you during the procedure and adjust medication as necessary to achieve a minimum of discomfort.

Don’t let fear keep you from getting necessary dental treatment. For more information about sedation dentistry in Denver, please contact Ascent Dental in Cherry Creek.