Before explain how painful a root canal procedure is, it is important to know about the root canal treatment.
The term “root canal” refers to both the inner part of the tooth (the passage in-between the dental pulp and dental roots) and to the tooth decay treatment that is used to remove infected materials from the root canal and to relieve it of pain. The root canal contains blood vessels and nerves, which may be removed during the root canal treatment. Once the tooth has fully emerged from the gums, the nerves in it no longer serve any specific purpose other than to sense cold, heat, and other stimuli. Therefore, removing a nerve in an infected tooth during the root canal treatment does no harm to the tooth.
What Causes Root Canals?
Pains in the root canals are caused mainly by the following:
- Dental caries: dental caries that has penetrated the tooth enamel can cause root canal pain.
- Dental damage: damages to the tooth, such as chips or cracks can cause dental decay and subsequently root canal.
- Dental diseases: risk factors for disease infections in the dental pulp include chips or cracks in the teeth, large dental fillings, recent dental procedures, trauma to the tooth, severe dental decay, etc. Your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment if the cause of the pain in your teeth is serious tooth decay or disease infection in the dental pulp.
Signs That You Need a Root Canal Treatment
Note that not all types of tooth pain are as a result of root canal. However, signs that you require a root canal treatment include:
- Swelling or tenderness in your gums near the area of the affected tooth.
- Feelings of a serious tooth pain when chewing or eating or when pressure is exerted on the affected area.
- Persistent tooth pain and oversensitivity to cold and hot even after the cold and hot stimuli have been removed.
- Darkening of the affected tooth.
- The appearance of a small, pimple-like lump on the gum tissue near the affected tooth area.
How Much Does A Tooth Decay Treatment?
The cost of undergoing a root canal treatment is more affordable than undergoing tooth extraction and dental implant surgery. On the average, the cost of a tooth decay treatment is about $520 for a molar and $350 for an incisor. However, these costs vary depending on how severe the root canal disease is and the type of dentist who will handle the treatment. For instance, engaging the service of an endodontist may be more expensive than engaging the service of a general dentist, for example.
Steps Involved in Root Canal Treatment
A root canal treatment involves a multi-step tooth decay treatment, which involves the removal of the infected tooth pulp and nerve from the affected tooth, and then sealing the tooth to protect it against any future infection or pain.
If you consult your dentist for a root canal treatment, here are steps you should expect during the treatment procedure to relieve you of the canal pain:
- Preparation for the treatment: the initial step involves taking an x-ray of the affected tooth by your dentist in order to determine the extent of the dental infection.
- Numbing up the affected area: root canal treatment follows a painful procedure. So, your dentist would give you a local anesthetic to numb the affected area as well as to prevent tooth pain during the treatment. The local anesthetic will make you feel more comfortable during the procedure.
- Drilling into the affected tooth: at this stage, the endodontist or your dentist would drill an access hole into your tooth to access the inner part. The endodontist or your dentist would then use some special devices to remove the damaged dental nerve and tooth pulp.
- Sealing up the hole: once the damaged dental nerve and tooth pulp has been removed, the endodontist or your dentist would then seal up the tooth. This usually happens on the same day. Sometimes, a dental crown can be used to cover the tooth. In such a case, a temporary dental filling is placed on the affected tooth to protect it and relieve you of the root canal pain until the dental crown is ready. Before sealing the affected tooth with a dental filling, a rubber compound is first placed into the root canal where the damaged dental nerve and tooth pulp was removed.
- Finishing up: sometimes before the dental crown or dental filling is used to complete the procedure, your dentist may leave the affected tooth open for some time for additional materials to drain out before the tooth is filled with the rubber compound and sealed up.
Root Canal Aftercare Procedure
Receiving a dental crown
After the root canal treatment, your dentist would place a special dental filling on the affected tooth. If your tooth has undergone several root canal treatment, it is most likely that you would need a dental crown on the tooth or some other type of dental restoration to protect the remains part of the tooth and to guard it against any future infection or pain.
Pain after a root canal treatment
Root canal treatment is very painful but you would be given local anesthesia to reduce the pain during the procedure. After the procedure, you would also experience some dental pains and sensitivity. However, it is abnormal for you to feel this pain for a long time. The root canal pain and sensitivity are normal because:
- The gum tissues around the affected tooth will remain inflamed or swollen. Despite the fact that your dentist has removed the dental nerves in the tooth, there are still some small dental nerves in the ligaments and gingival tissues around the affected tooth. These surrounding nerves will feel the pain of the inflammation.
- Instrument damage. During the tooth decay treatment, it is possible that the dental devices used for the procedure may inadvertently damage the surrounding gingival or sensitive tissues.
- High temporary dental filling. This occurs when your dentist did not smoothen down the temporary dental filling well enough after placing it. Therefore, if the dental filling is a bit higher than the surrounding teeth, it may cause your mouth to bite harder on that area, causing tooth sore.
Generally, the pain, discomfort, and sensitivity associated with tooth decay treatment should subside within a few days. But if these symptoms do not go away or become severe, it is important that you call a dental professional for an evaluation.
More so, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen, should be effective at relieving the root canal pains. Ensure that you use the medications according to instructions.
It is important that you follow good and proper dental care practices to maintain your dental crown and avoid future root canal infection and pain. For more information on root canal treatment, visit our root canal page, you can also schedule a consultation with any of our professional endodontists about your tooth decay treatment.