Here is a recent question from ‘Sarah’:
“Is a root canal painful? I know I have to get it done but I am really scared!”
You are not the only person to have asked this Sarah! Root canal is one of those things that evoke fear in a lot of patients, especially those who haven’t had the treatment done before.
I’ll try to answer this question with a few more common questions and answers.
What is root canal?
Root canal treatment, also known as RCT for short, is the cleaning out and filling of the inside of a tooth. The inside is where the ‘pulp’ is, and this holds the nerve. Now, the pulp can be damaged, for example by decay reaching it or the blood supply being cut off (if the tooth gets a knock). If the pulp gets damaged we can get toothache and/or an abscess. So root canal is needed to remove all the dead pulp and prevent problems recurring.
There’s a full guide to root canal here, including further explanations of why it is needed.
“It sounds really painful, is it?”
I know this is easy to say, but no, root canal treatment should not be painful. Your dentist will make sure that you are ‘numb’ and comfortable throughout. Most people are scared of the treatment because of the unknown element of it, or because of something a friend said… But in the vast majority of cases root canal is not painful. There may be some pain for a few days after the procedure, but this is usually manageable with some over-the-counter pain relief.
For more information see my article here. The article briefly outlines the treatment procedure and why it shouldn’t hurt.
If you are really nervous do talk to your dentist about this. We deal with anxious patients all the time! You may benefit from some form of sedation, this is worth asking your dentist about.
Another potential source of help is this forum (tell them we sent you!). It is full of helpful patients who are in the same boat as you, or have had the treatment in the past.