The mere mention of root canal treatment might send chills down your spine. Quite often, the fear and anxiety of pain can be much more than the intensity of the pain itself.

Now let’s not say that the treatment is completely pain-free. No, it will hurt a little bit and will cause slight discomfort. Any such procedure is bound to hurt a bit. But it is definitely not as painful as you might imagine it to be. In fact, the goal of this treatment is to make your life free of pain from infected dental nerves.

It can help if you know the basics of the root canal treatment. This way, you can see when the pain needs professional help and how slight pain and discomfort can be managed at home. Read on to know more.

Root canal treatment

What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is a common procedure used to treat infected root canals and thereby save natural teeth from further decay. The root canal procedure is essentially done when decay has travelled inside the enamel and into the core of the teeth. Here, the dental pulp gets infected and thereby inflamed. With the root canal treatment, the dental pulp is removed. Further, the dental cavity is cleaned and sealed. To ensure strength to the structure, the infected enamel is cleaned, and a crown is fixed onto it. Thus, natural teeth can be saved from further decay.

Understanding the root canal procedure

Step 1 to eliminating anxiety is knowing what the procedure is all about. This way, you will see what you are in for.


Way before the treatment is done, a dental x-ray of your infected tooth will be taken to identify the severity of the infection. Usually, a root canal treatment is advised only after the dentist examines your x-ray.

Administering anaesthesia

Local anaesthesia is administered to numb the nerves surrounding the infected tooth before beginning the treatment. You will not feel any pain during the rest of the treatment.

Dental opening

To access the infected pulp, a small hole is made in the tooth’s enamel. A dental dam may be placed before this to isolate the tooth and to keep it dry during the procedure

Pulp removal

The infected pulp, including the nerves, blood vessels, and tissues inside the tooth, is carefully removed. This process is carried out with tiny instruments and might take time.

Canal cleaning and sealing

The root canal is cleaned and disinfected after the pulp is removed. It is further sealed to prevent bacteria from re-entering.

Crown placement

Crowns are part of the final restoration process. The enamel of the tooth is shaped to fit a custom-made crown.

Will Root Canal Treatment hurt?

This is the big question for everyone. Let’s examine the pain quotient during and after the procedure.

During the procedure

As already mentioned before, the procedure is done under the effects of anaesthesia. Before beginning the root canal treatment, local anaesthesia is administered to numb the area around the infected tooth. This means you will essentially feel less pain or discomfort than a standard cavity filling. In fact, all you will feel after the tiny prick of the anaesthetic needle is mild pressure during the cavity cleaning. Nothing more! Your perception of root canal treatment as a painful procedure is false. It is just your fear kicking in.

After the procedure

It is natural that the pain and discomfort might resurface once the numbness wears off. Let it be mentioned that this pain and discomfort will be mild. In actuality, you might feel sensitivity and tenderness in the areas near the treated tooth. Nevertheless, your dentist will prescribe pain relief medications for you. You must take these medications for a few days as the pain, discomfort, and sensitivity will not last long.

Root Canal Treatment Aftercare

Do you know what ghost pain is? People who have had limbs amputated experience a sense of ghost pain because a functional part of their body has been removed. This ghost pain is just a way of the body coming to terms with its new disposition. Likewise, one might feel ghost pain or phantom tooth pain after a root canal treatment. The pain is not severe at all. It may be more like you getting to terms with the fact that the dental pulp has been removed from a tooth in your mouth.

So, what can you do to lessen this mild pain or discomfort? Keep the following tips in mind.

Take prescribed medicines

If your dentist has recommended antibiotics and painkillers for you, then take them without hesitation. Taking painkillers is the best way out of the immediate discomfort from when the numbness wears off.

Eat soft food

Avoid hard or crunchy food. If possible, avoid chewing on that side of the mouth. This way, you can ensure that the sensitive gums or nerves and the temporary filling remain intact. Also, chewing using the treated tooth can cause mild pain. So, it is better to avoid that.

Gargle with salt water

Softly gargling with warm salt water will help lessen the swelling. It also helps in keeping any other infections at bay.

Drink cold beverages

This is the best excuse to have some ice cream. Consuming cold drinks will help bring down the swelling.

Don’t overexert

Avoid physical activities for 2 days. Basically, take care that you don’t sweat or physically exhaust yourself.

Get check-ups

Get regular check-ups with your dentist post the treatment. Also, make sure you don’t delay having the permanent crown fixed.

Seek professional help

See your dentist if the pain or swelling is not subsiding or is increasing after a few days. While the chances for this happening are low, it could mean that the treatment was not completely successful.

Root canal treatments will help you eliminate the pain caused by infections. The mild discomfort you will feel during and after the treatment is nothing compared to the pain of an untreated infected tooth. So, calm your nerves and get the treatment done quickly.