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General Dentistry

Does root canal therapy hurt?

By 26th September 2014September 12th, 2023No Comments3 min read


We often find that the perception of pain is a barrier to some people electing to have root canal therapy when advised by their dentist. It is therefore worth understanding what root canal therapy is, why it is sometimes advised by your dentist and whether it is in fact a painful procedure.

The nerve sensation that supplies feeling to your tooth is not a simple nerve entering the root of a tooth. It is in fact a delicate jelly-like mixture in the middle of the tooth root containing nerve fibres and blood vessels and this is called the pulp. It is not too dissimilar to the marrow inside your bones.

When teeth are subjected to decay that is close to the pulp, or if a tooth is injured in some other way, this delicate pulp can die. The result is that the root chamber, known as the root canal, will be left with tissue products on which bacteria can feed and this in turn allows infection to occur.

So why does a root canal infection hurt if the nerve has died? The pain associated with a root canal infection is due to the fact that the root canal is a closed system. This means that as the infection grows, the limited space makes the pressure build up and it is this increase in pressure that causes pain. In some case, a small channel will develop to the outside gum and a “gum boil” will allow the infection to drain out naturally, relieving the pressure. But in either scenario the source of the infection, the dead pulp tissue in the root canal, will need treating before the infection can be removed.

The only way to save a tooth when the pulp dies is to remove the pulp. This is what root canal therapy does. In nearly all cases, the procedure will be painless. Good local anaesthetic techniques will mean that you will not feel anything that your dentist is doing. Occasionally, if you present with an acute infection and throbbing pain, the dentist may place a painkilling cream inside the tooth prior to the root canal therapy appointment. This will start to settle the infection so that on the day of the appointment the anaesthetic will work as described above. You really need not let the worry of pain prevent you from saving a tooth with root canal therapy.

Here at the Dental Clinic- Radlett, to make the root canal appointment even more comfortable, you can pick from a large selections of films, dramas, comedies or documentaries to lighten the experience. If you ever have any questions regarding this or any other treatment, please feel free to ask your dentist.

Book a check up appointment online now to help maintain healthy teeth.

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