Dr. Ray Alavanja
Dr. Robert Pieters

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Root Canals: Are They Actually Painful?

When someone utters the word “root canal,” most people can’t suppress the niggling urge to cringe. Many imagine a whining drill and a constant throb of pain. And if your dentist suggests a root canal, you may instantly feel anxious and nervous about the procedure.

But root canals aren’t nearly as bad as many believe. So, what can you expect from a root canal procedure? Below, we’ll discuss what a root canal treatment is, why it’s necessary, and what the procedure is like.

What Is a Root Canal Treatment?

Our teeth are fairly strong, but they can sometimes meet an ill fate. Rough sports or a smack to the mouth can crack teeth or cause other trauma. And if decay sits too long, it can result in cavities or other dental issues.

When a tooth’s roots are damaged through decay or physical trauma, they can become inflamed or infected. To keep this infection from becoming problematic, the affected roots and pulp are removed from the innards of the tooth, which is generally what a root canal treatment is.

If your dentist has determined you need a root canal treatment, your root canals will be cleared of infected roots and pulp using a drill and other tools, and the canals and hollow portion of the tooth will be filled and sealed off to prevent future damage and decay.

Why Would Root Canal Treatment Be Necessary?

As mentioned before, a root canal treatment is meant to clear infected roots and pulp from a tooth and prevent more extensive dental issues. But why would this be a better option than removing the tooth entirely?

Extracting the tooth is much more traumatic than a root canal treatment, and doing so can actually get more bad bacteria in your bloodstream. Also, it’s always best to preserve the natural tooth as much as possible to prevent potential problems with your biting, chewing, or jawbone strength.

Getting a root canal is also more cost- and time-effective than a tooth extraction. When you get a tooth extraction, you may have to take several trips to the dental chair for the extraction and for an implant, and an implant can be costly compared to a root canal treatment.

With a root canal procedure, you spend limited time at the dentist, and you save a lot of money while keeping your natural tooth in place. And you’ll find it’s actually much more pleasant than you expected.

What Is a Root Canal Procedure Like?

If your roots are inflamed or infected, you might experience a sensitivity to hot or cold foods, or you might have a toothache. Your tooth may also change color and the surrounding tissue might swell. However, damaged roots don’t always result in pain or discomfort.

In any case, if the dentist suspects there’s a problem with a tooth’s roots, he or she can take an X-ray and perform other examinations to determine if a root canal procedure is required.

If a root canal is necessary, don’t fret. Before the procedure, you’ll be given a local anesthetic to dull the pain. And if the nerves in the tooth are dead already, you might not feel any pain in the tooth at all.

The dentist will then drill an opening in the tooth and use a specialized file to remove the pulp and roots and shape the hollowed areas for filling. Before filling the space, the dentist will clean and irrigate the area to ensure all the debris is removed.

Once the tooth has been filled and sealed, a crown will cap the tooth to protect the filling. Sometimes, if the dentist thinks the crown needs additional support, he or she may insert a post into the natural tooth for a more solid crown.

The great news is that you should feel minimal pain, if any at all, and if you do have increased discomfort, you can tell your dentist right away. The filling that comes with a root canal lasts a long time, and it won’t result in lifelong pain or discomfort. You won’t even know it’s there unless a rare problem arises.

If you do feel any pain or discomfort after your root canal treatment, schedule an appointment with your dentist to take a look.


Familiarizing yourself with the procedure before undergoing a root canal treatment can help you feel more at ease. But if you have any questions or concerns, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist. He or she can walk you through the process and help you feel more comfortable.

At Schererville Family Dentistry, we understand that some dental treatments might seem intimidating. We do our best to accommodate your needs and address your concerns, and we make the extra effort to create a comfortable environment for all of our patients. If you’re feeling any tooth pain, give us a call today, and we’ll help determine what the problem might be.

Schererville Family Dentistry

1050 Caroline Ave
Schererville, IN 46375
Call or text us: 219.322.3232