Concerns About Root Canals and Root Canal Pain

There are many misconceptions surrounding root canal (endodontic) treatment and whether patients experience root canal pain. The American Association of Endodontists wants you to have accurate information. As always, when considering any medical procedure, you should get as much information as you can about all of your options. Your dentist or  endodontist can answer many of your questions, and if you still have concerns, it is often wise to seek a second opinion.

Concern #1—Root canal treatment is painful.

Root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain, it relieves it.

The perception of root canals being painful began decades ago but, with modern technologies and anesthetics, root canal treatment today is often no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. In our office, it is not uncommon for a patient to fall asleep during treatment and occasionally report, after their appointment is complete, that “having a root canal was the easiest dental visit I ever had.”

When a patient sees their dentist or endodontist regarding a severe toothache, the toothache can be caused by either inflamed tissues within the tooth or infection of the surrounding supportive tissues (gums and jawbone). Root canal treatment addresses the affected tissues, relieving the pain you feel and creating an environment for healing.

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Concern #2—An alternative to root canal treatment is extraction (removing the tooth in question).

Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is the very best option.

Nothing can completely replace your natural tooth. An artificial tooth can sometimes cause you to avoid certain foods. Keeping your own teeth is important so that you can continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods necessary to maintain the proper nutrient balance in your diet. If your dentist recommends extraction, ask whether root canal treatment is an option.

Endodontic treatment, along with an appropriate restoration, is a cost-effective way to treat teeth with damaged pulp and is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of a bridge or an implant.

Endodontic treatment also has a very high success rate. Many root canal-treated teeth last a lifetime.

Placement of a bridge or an implant will require significantly more time in treatment and may result in further procedures to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues.

Millions of healthy endodontically treated teeth serve patients all over the world for years and years after having a “root canal.” Those healthy teeth are helping patients chew efficiently, maintain the natural appearance of their smiles and enhance their enjoyment of life. Through endodontic treatment, endodontists and dentists worldwide can enable patients to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.

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