While most people associate a root canal procedure with pain, it is not the procedure itself that causes the pain. In fact, most of the pain that people think about or remember in conjunction with root canal therapy is the reason that they need the procedure in the first place and is not a result of the procedure being performed.
To understand why this is true, all that is needed is to get a better idea of what results in the need for this type of procedure in the first place. A root canal procedure is typically needed when tooth decay is allowed to progress to the point where it not only impacts the enamel of the tooth, but progresses into the dentin and pulp of the tooth, affecting the area where the tooth’s roots reside. When this occurs, extreme pain can be felt and the decay can result in infection or abscess.
Tooth decay in and of itself often results in no pain until it reaches the point where it is in the area around the roots and nerves of the tooth. The primary way that decay is caught earlier is through routine visits to the dentist, which includes a manual exam and x-rays. However, if left unchecked or uncaught, the decay can lead to bigger issues which eventually result in pain and/or swelling, tenderness or other types of discomfort. These symptoms send you to the dentist where it is then determined that a root canal procedure is needed.
The procedure itself is relatively pain-free and removes the cause of the pain you have likely been feeling which brought you to the dentist in the first place. Most patients will opt for some type of anesthetic, although most achieve adequate comfort with a local anesthetic – much the same as is used when filling a cavity. Some dentists use laser dentistry techniques to perform root canal therapy rather than a traditional drill, and this results in less discomfort and quicker healing. The laser performs the same task as the drill but with more precision and makes it likely that more healthy tooth structure can be saved.
Once the area of decay has been removed and the root canals have been cleaned out to get rid of any bacteria or infection, there is no longer a feeling of pain and the patient begins to heal. In most cases, the structure of the tooth at this point is not strong enough to provide adequate function so some type of restoration may be required. The most common option for restoring teeth following a root canal procedure is to place a dental crown over the remaining structure of the tooth, but your dentist will discuss your options with you.
The thought of having a root canal procedure done should not sending you running for the hills because of the potential for pain. Rather, you should appreciate the fact that once the procedure is completed, any pain you are already experiencing will be alleviated and you can begin on the road to recovery.
For more information about root canal therapy, contact Gentle Dental in Queens at 718-461-0100.