Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?

Jamie J. Alexander on February 19, 2021

Tooth pain is indicative of a problem that is likely to advance. So, the faster you seek treatment, the less uncomfortable you will become prior to treatment. When a tooth becomes painful, the nerves can be removed, and the remaining root structure of the tooth preserved and restored with a dental crown.

Patients commonly admit to me and/or my dental assistant, hygienist, and receptionist that they are fearful of this treatment because they have heard it is painful. I hope to dispel this myth. The inflammation of the nerves is what is painful, not the actual treatment.

A “root canal” is a procedure designed to remove infected or injured nerves and bacteria from the inside of a tooth. We, dentists, call this endodontic procedure “root canal therapy.” During the procedure, each root of the affected tooth is “therapeutically” cleaned out and then filled to preserve it. The word “therapy” implies the elimination of pain. Not only does root canal therapy save teeth, but it also eliminates pain in the tooth permanently.

The treatment is performed after blocking nerve pain with a local anesthetic. As soon as the local anesthetic takes effect, you will relax in the dental chair and only feel pressure during the removal of the nerves, antimicrobial cleaning, and filling of the emptied root canals. Within a very few minutes of sitting in the dental chair for your therapy, your pain will end. The treatment itself will not be painful.