Does a Root Canal Hurt? Debunking the Myths and Facts

Posted on September 12th, 2023.

When it comes to dental procedures, few evoke as much anxiety and apprehension as the term "root canal." 

The mere mention of it can send shivers down the spine of even the bravest souls. 

But does a root canal hurt as much as it's often perceived to do? 

In this comprehensive guide, we aim to debunk the myths and clarify the facts surrounding root canal treatment. 

We'll delve into what happens during a root canal, address common concerns about root canal pain and tooth sensitivity, and shed light on the healing process. By the end, you'll have a clearer understanding of this essential dental procedure.

What Does a Root Canal Do?

A root canal, technically known as endodontic treatment, is a dental procedure designed to save a tooth that has a severely infected or damaged pulp – the innermost part of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels. Contrary to popular belief, a root canal aims to relieve pain, not cause it.

During a root canal, the dentist carefully removes the infected or damaged pulp, cleans the inside of the tooth, and then seals it to prevent further infection. This procedure effectively saves the tooth from extraction and allows you to maintain your natural smile.

What Happens During a Root Canal?

If you've ever wondered about the inner workings of a root canal procedure, you're not alone. In this section, we'll take a detailed journey into what happens during a root canal, demystifying the process and providing you with a clear understanding of this essential dental procedure. From diagnosis to restoration, we'll unravel the steps that make a root canal a solution for saving a severely infected or damaged tooth.

1. Diagnosis

Before a root canal, your dentist will examine the affected tooth and may take X-rays to assess the extent of the damage. This step ensures that a root canal is the most appropriate treatment.

2. Local Anesthesia

To ensure your comfort during the procedure, the dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area around the affected tooth. You should not feel pain during the root canal.

3. Pulp Removal

The dentist will create a small access point in the tooth and carefully remove the infected or damaged pulp using specialized instruments.

4. Cleaning and Shaping

The inside of the tooth is cleaned, disinfected, and shaped to prepare it for filling.

5. Filling

The cleaned space inside the tooth is filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha. This seals the tooth to prevent further infection.

6. Restoration

In most cases, a tooth that has undergone a root canal will require a crown to protect and strengthen it, as the tooth structure may become more brittle over time.

Debunking the Myths Surrounding Root Canal Pain

Root canals have garnered an unwarranted reputation as one of the most dreaded dental procedures, largely due to the myths and misconceptions that surround them. In this section, we'll debunk some of the most common myths about root canal pain, shedding light on the realities of this essential dental treatment.

Myth 1: Root Canals Are Excruciatingly Painful

One of the most prevalent myths about root canals is that they are excruciatingly painful procedures. This misconception couldn't be further from the truth. Thanks to modern dental techniques and the use of local anesthesia, root canals are designed to be virtually painless. Patients should not experience pain during the procedure itself. Any sensation felt is typically pressure or vibration, not pain.

Myth 2: Root Canals Cause Long-Term Discomfort

Another persistent myth is that root canals lead to long-term discomfort and pain. In reality, the primary goal of a root canal is to alleviate the pain caused by a severely infected or damaged tooth. While some mild soreness or discomfort may occur after the procedure, it is usually temporary and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. The discomfort is a small trade-off for the long-term benefits of preserving your natural tooth and maintaining proper chewing function.

The Facts Behind Root Canal Treatments

Root canal treatments, or endodontic procedures, are known for their ability to save severely infected or damaged teeth. Let's explore the undeniable facts that dispel the myths surrounding root canal pain and highlight the benefits of this essential dental treatment.

Fact 1: Root Canals Relieve Pain

The primary purpose of a root canal is to relieve pain, not cause it. When a tooth's pulp becomes infected or damaged, it can lead to excruciating toothaches and sensitivity. A root canal effectively removes the infected or damaged pulp, eliminating the source of pain and allowing you to regain your oral comfort.

Fact 2: Local Anesthesia Ensures Comfort

To ensure a pain-free experience during a root canal, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic. This numbs the affected area, preventing you from feeling pain during the procedure. You may experience some pressure or vibration, but it should not be painful.

Fact 3: Root Canals Save Teeth

Rather than opting for tooth extraction, which can lead to additional dental issues and the need for tooth replacement, a root canal allows you to preserve your natural tooth. Once the infected or damaged pulp is removed and the tooth is sealed, it can continue to function as a vital part of your dental arch.

Fact 4: Minimal Post-Procedure Discomfort

While it's normal to experience some mild soreness or discomfort following a root canal, this discomfort is usually temporary. It arises from the natural inflammation of the tissues surrounding the treated tooth, and it can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. Most patients find that any discomfort subsides within a few days.

Fact 5: Restorations Are Essential

After a root canal, the treated tooth may require a crown to protect and strengthen it. This is because the tooth structure may become more brittle over time. A crown ensures the longevity and functionality of the treated tooth.

Fact 6: Root Canals Are Routine Procedures

Root canal treatments are common dental procedures performed with precision and expertise by dental professionals worldwide. Thanks to advancements in dental technology and techniques, root canals have become routine, and patients can expect a high level of care and comfort during the process.

Fact 7: Long-Term Benefits

The benefits of a successful root canal extend beyond immediate relief from pain. By preserving your natural tooth, you maintain proper chewing function, prevent adjacent teeth from shifting, and avoid the need for more extensive dental work, such as bridges or implants.

Related: Preventative Dental Care: What is It and Why is It Vital? 


In the world of dentistry, the root canal procedure has been unfairly maligned as an excruciating experience. The truth is quite the opposite. A root canal is a dental treatment designed to alleviate pain, not cause it. Thanks to modern techniques and local anesthesia, the procedure itself should be virtually painless.

At Palcare Dental, we specialize in providing gentle and effective root canal treatments, ensuring our patients' comfort throughout the process. If you have concerns about a root canal or require this essential dental procedure, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're here to debunk the myths, clarify the facts, and provide you with top-quality dental care.

If you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment, please contact us at 020 8568 0737 or email us at [email protected]. Your comfort and oral health are our top priorities, and we look forward to assisting you with your dental needs.

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