Just hearing the words “root canal” spoken out loud is enough to make grown men squirm. No doubt you have at least heard about how painful a root canal is from a family member or a friend. Even the media demonizes root canals as one of the most painful things around. But what exactly is behind all of the fear? What causes the pain of a root canal, and how painful is it, really?
The first thing that is necessary to understand about a root canal is that the procedure itself is not what causes most of the pain felt by most patients. In fact, the main purpose of a root canal is to do more than just repair and save an extremely damaged and infected tooth; it relieves pain, not causes it. A root canal is only performed on teeth that are very severely damaged by a very deep cavity. The tooth at this time is already very damaged and is causing the patient severe pain. The discomfort that a patient typically feels from the actual procedure of a root canal is no more than your routine cavity filling.
The pain that comes along with the whole situation actually originates in the damaged area of the tooth such as what is referred to as pulp. During the procedure, this pulp is removed during a root canal, and the area is cleaned and filled allowing for your tooth to live to see another day and start the healing process.
Pain will persist for at least a few more days after the procedure, but once the pulp is removed and your tooth is well taken care of, the pain will subside. To get you through those most painful days, though, your dentist can prescribe some painkillers that will cut through most of the pain.