How much do root canals really hurt?

attractive asian middle aged smiling Would you rather have a tax audit or a root canal? Root canals have gained a reputation for being painful, bordering on torture. But do they deserve this reputation? (Your dentist would probably say they do not!) And what exactly happens during a root canal, anyway?

What is a root canal?

You may have heard that root canals hurt, but you may not even really know what a root canal is. A root canal is a procedure to get rid of infected pulp within the tooth. The “pulp” is made up of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. It can become infected when bacteria gets a chance to get into the tooth, which can happen if the tooth has a cavity that hasn’t been treated or if it is chipped or cracked.

Before your root canal, your gums will be numbed. The pulp is removed and the tooth is cleaned out. The tooth is coated with an antibiotic and then the tooth is covered with a crown – a little cap that fits over the tooth.

So how bad does it hurt?

Most patients actually say that a root canal hurts about as much as getting a filling. And, in a recent study, fewer than 20% of participants said it was the most painful procedure they had ever had at the dentist.

It isn’t clear how root canals got their painful reputation, but it seems like it is undeserved. Your mouth will feel a bit sore after it is all done, but an over-the-counter medication should help with the pain. And if you are feeling some pain, keep in mind that root canals are important for the health of your teeth – an infection in a tooth is not only painful, but eventually it could lead to the loss of the tooth.

Do root canals really deserve their reputation? Probably not. They may even be less painful than a tax audit! Signs that you may need a root canal include pain when chewing, swollen gums, or sudden sensitivity to hot or cold. If your teeth are causing you pain, call Pound Ridge Cosmetic Dentistry. Call 914-468-4759 for an appointment today!


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