Is It Painful to Have a Root Canal Treatment? | RTD
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Is It Painful to Have a Root Canal Treatment?

Despite misconceptions, root canal treatment is a common dental procedure that isn't normally any more painful than having a filling. Your dentist may recommend root canal therapy if you have signs of a tooth infection, which can cause severe pain and put your health at risk.

Root canal treatments have a high success rate and can restore a badly damaged or infected tooth to good working order. The only alternative is usually to extract the tooth, which involves more complications.

If you need a root canal treatment in the Gold Coast, you're in safe hands with our experienced dentists at Robina Town Dental. We'll make sure you know what to expect during the procedure and will give you advice about how to avoid pain and discomfort during your recovery.

Call us on 07 5575 9100 or book a consultation today.

What is a root canal?

Root canals are the hollow interiors of teeth that contain the dental pulp – the soft tissues with nerves and blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and make it sensitive to pain, pressure and temperature. If this tissue is damaged, or infected by bacteria, it needs to be removed.

Root canal treatment or root canal therapy is a dental procedure that involves removing damaged or infected pulp from inside the tooth and replacing it with a sterile filling material. How long this takes depends on the type of tooth, size of the root canals and other factors.

Does a root canal hurt?

If the mention of a "root canal" makes you wince, rest assured that the modern root canal procedure is performed under local anaesthetic to numb pain responses from the mouth. The time involved for the procedure may cause some people to feel uncomfortable, but you shouldn't feel any pain.

After the treatment, your mouth or jaw may feel sore for several days, but this may be relieved with normal painkillers or safe home remedies. Your treated tooth should no longer feel painful or sensitive after the pulp is removed. If you do have unexpected pain, you should contact your dentist to make an emergency appointment.

If you feel nervous about your treatment, you can discuss other sedation options with your dentist that could help you to feel calm and get through the procedure.

Do I need a root canal treatment?

A tooth may become infected and need root canal treatment if it's severely decayed, injured or worn down, or if dental work such as a filling or crown breaks. This can compromise the protective enamel and dentine layers, exposing the inner tooth to bacteria.

Signs that you may have an infected tooth and need a root canal can include:

  • Sudden toothache, or pain when you eat
  • Your tooth feels more sensitive to heat and cold, which may continue afterwards
  • Your tooth feels loose or looks darker
  • Swelling in your gums, face, jaw or neck
  • Discharge around a tooth

A pulp infection may not always have obvious symptoms. Having regular dental check-ups improves the chances of infections and other problems being caught and treated early.

When you visit the dentist, they will take an x-ray to examine your tooth and determine what treatment may be needed.

What if I don't have a root canal treatment?

An infected tooth can't heal on its own. If an infection is allowed to develop, the affected pulp will eventually die. This will make the tooth lose sensitivity, but the infection can spread to other teeth, or may lead to other serious problems, such as an abscess forming below the tooth or bone loss in the jaw.

Delaying visiting the dentist could also mean it's too late to save the tooth, so an extraction may be the only option. While dentists may sometimes recommend antibiotics to help prevent an infection from spreading, antibiotics alone are not effective at treating a root canal infection.

Dentists will try to save a tooth if possible, as missing teeth can lead to various problems, including affecting eating and speech, and causing the surrounding teeth to go crooked. Replacing the tooth with an implant, bridge or denture will require more extensive treatment and ongoing costs compared to a root canal treatment.

What's involved in the root canal procedure?

Root canal therapy can involve several appointments, depending on what type of tooth is being treated and other factors. Root canal treatment at Robina Town Dental involves five steps.

1. Consultation and assessment

Your dentist will examine your mouth and take an x-ray. This will help them to determine whether you have a pulp infection and how severe it is. If they decide you could benefit from root canal therapy, they will explain the procedure to you and develop your treatment plan.

2. Removing the infected tissue

You'll be given a local anaesthetic so you won't feel pain during the procedure, and your dentist will protect your other teeth and your mouth by placing a rubber dam around the tooth being treated. They will then drill into the tooth, carefully remove the infected pulp, and clean and disinfect the root canal.

3. Shaping the root canals

Once all bacteria have been removed, your dentist will carefully reshape the root canals in preparation for a filling. This may involve more than one visit, especially for larger teeth such as molars. Your dentist may place a temporary filling to protect the tooth between appointments.

4. Placing the filling

Once the root canals have been prepared, they will be sealed inside with a filling material such as gutta-percha. This helps to ensure the stability of the tooth and will prevent further infections. Sometimes, a small support may be placed inside for extra stability.

5. Placing the crown

After the tooth has been filled, it will be sealed and restored to its original appearance by fitting a custom dental restoration over the top. This is usually a dental crown, but a large filling may be used for smaller teeth. Our Gold Coast dentists offer same day CEREC crowns for root canal treatments.

Once your tooth has been treated and restored, it will normally last as long as your other teeth, provided you take good care of your oral health. However, it will no longer feel sensitivity, and some treated teeth may turn darker after the pulp is removed.

How long is recovery after root canal treatment?

Most people can return to their normal activities the day after a root canal treatment, but this can depend on the type of sedation that was used. You might feel some pain or soreness for up to a few days. This can normally be managed by taking over-the-counter medication.

It's important to avoid hard foods for a few days and to avoid putting pressure on the treated tooth while your mouth is healing and the crown is bonding. Eating soft foods such as mashed potato, pasta and yoghurt for the first couple of days can help your mouth to recover.

You should brush and floss normally to maintain your oral hygiene, cleaning gently around the treated tooth. Smoking can affect healing and the success of root canal treatments, so should be avoided.

How can I avoid root canal treatment?

Dental pulp infections and the need for root canal treatments can usually be prevented by taking good care of your teeth and gums. This includes:

  • Brushing twice a day: It should take around two minutes to clean all surfaces of your teeth. Use fluoride toothpaste to reduce plaque and a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging the enamel. Change your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head at least every three months.
  • Flossing once a day: Use floss, an interdental brush or other floss alternatives to gently clean the spaces around and between your teeth where bacteria can build up. Flossing should also take around two minutes.
  • Eat healthy: Avoid food and drink that are high in sugar, which contributes to tooth decay and other dental problems. A balanced diet that's high in vitamins and minerals can help to protect your teeth and gums.
  • Protect your teeth: Talk to your dentist if you need a custom mouthguard to protect your teeth from injury during sports or treatments to help with teeth grinding.
  • Regular dental visits: See a dentist every 6–12 months for an oral health assessment and hygiene treatments to help protect and strengthen your teeth against bacteria.

Book a Gold Coast root canal consultation

If you have a toothache, sensitivity or other possible sign of a tooth infection, contact Robina Town Dental today to book a consultation with one of our experienced Gold Coast dentists.

We'll make sure you have all the information you need about root canal treatment and other options so you can make informed decisions. We accept all health funds and offer a choice of payment plans to help make quality dental care accessible.

Call 07 5575 9100 or book online to schedule an appointment at our dental clinic in Robina Town Centre. We welcome patients from all nearby locations including Burleigh Heads, Burleigh Waters, Miami, Mudgeeraba, Worongary, Merrimac, Mermaid Waters, Varsity Lakes and Clear Island Waters.

Call Now: 07 5575 9100