The topic today is Root canal treatment. People always ask me: “How painful root canal treatment could be?”
First of all, I need to address two questions: What causes a tooth to be a candidate for root canal treatment and what is the Root canal treatment itself?
Let’s answer them both: whatever causes infection in the tooth, makes it a right candidate for Root canal treatment. Teeth are covered with a hard enamel shell and underneath that, there is a softer material which is called dentin. Deeper down is the nerve inside. Whatever causes bacteria to enter this space (nerve space) could cause infection. The source of infection could be the gum around or something like a dental decay, and this could affect the nerve inside. When the nerve inside is affected, it would either get inflamed or infected and then, we need to remove the nerve from within the tooth in order to save the tooth. This procedure is called root canal treatment.
Now let’s elaborate on the most popular cause: the most important cause is dental decay.
What is dental decay?
Dental decay is dissolution of tooth by acid produced by bacteria. The interaction between the bacteria and the carbohydrates patient normally consumes. This two when combined, produce some acid. So, bacteria get carbohydrates and produce some acid which begins to dissolve the tooth and cause very tiny areas of decay on the surface. After a while, it goes a little bit deeper and reaches the lower layer of dentin, and finally it reaches the nerve inside. As the decay reaches the nerve, because it contains bacteria, the nerve begins to get inflamed and infected and after a while, it will die.
So basically, what we need to do is to remove this infected nerve from within the tooth because we cannot control infection with antibiotics alone.
Alright, what we need to do is to make sure we can eradicate this infected material; the nerve, the bacteria, by insertion of some tiny needles into the tooth to clean the tooth. After a while, we need to fill inside the root with some kind of plastic material, so we can make sure the infection will not get back. This is the whole process of Root canal treatment.
Now the main question: How painful could it be? let me put it this way: individuals are very different in terms of pain threshold. There are some people with infected teeth and no history of pain! They don’t even feel any sensitivity, let alone the pain. On the other side of the spectrum there are some people with tiny chipping on the tooth, coming to us with excruciating pain and sensitivity. So, individuals could be quite different in terms of pain threshold. However, there’s a rule of thumb here: the more inflamed the truth, the more the pain. The more the inflammation and infection, the harder it is for us to control the pain. We normally administer some kind of anaesthetic before the procedure. If the truth is quite infected, the anaesthetic material around the tooth will get neutralised easily by the infection by-products. This is why that’s very important we can take action as quickly as possible before the tooth gets severely inflamed or infected as if something happens, then the chances we can control the pain will diminish drastically.
And the final point: it is really paramount for you to have your 6 monthly dental check-ups and cleans just to make sure this thing won’t happen to you, so you don’t have to bear with pain before, during, or even after the procedure.
Thank you very much for your attention!