Have you ever used a root canal as a benchmark for how much you really don’t want to do something? If so, you’re not alone. It’s common for people to make statements like, “I’d rather have a root canal than spend one more minute with that person.”
That’s because root canals are the ultimate pain, right? Maybe that was true years ago, but it’s not a reality today. In fact, many people come out of modern root canals saying it wasn’t nearly as bad as they expected.
Let’s dig into the details of why root canals are perceived as painful and what the truth is with modern technology. That may ease your anxiety if you expect to have a root canal in the future.
Why are Root Canals Needed?
Think of root canals as fillings for the inner tooth. Instead of filling the hard surface of your teeth, a drill is used to remove diseased pulp tissue from the center of the tooth. This is necessary when the pulp in the hollow part of the tooth is infected by a deep cavity. The procedure ends with a permanent filling and often a crown.
Root Canals of the Past
Root canals are seen as the ultimate physical pain because they were extremely painful when first invented. The earliest attempts to relieve deep cavities were believed to involve wires placed in the infected pulp and pulp draining with little to no options for pain control.
Early root canal tools were designed to get to the center of the tooth and remove the diseased pulp. They weren’t designed for comfort, and they were extremely painful.
Root Canals Today – Do They Still Hurt?
We’re lucky to live in modern times because advances in pain medication make root canals far less painful. In fact, many people come out of the procedure saying it is similar to having a filling as far as pain is concerned.
Why are root canals far less painful today? It starts with modern anesthetics. We now have the ability to numb your tissue so that you simply don’t feel the pain during the procedure. It’s the same reason surgical procedures are far less painful today than they were in the past.
We’re also beyond the days of experimentation. Trained, experienced dentists have advanced tools that get to the pulp faster and with greater efficiency. These tools are designed to enhance comfort just as much as they are to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
How to Avoid Root Canals
If you can prevent cavities, you can prevent root canals. Unfortunately, this procedure is often used when cavities are left untreated. If you aren’t seeing your dentist every six months for a cleaning, you may eventually have an emergency appointment due to severe pain that leaves you in the chair for a root canal.
To lower your chances of developing deep cavities in the future, make brushing and flossing a daily routine. Brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. There are a lot of tools on the market if you don’t like traditional dental floss, so look around or ask your dentist for your options.
Finally, it’s important to see your dentist at least twice a year for routine cleaning. That’s how you detect cavities early and prevent deep intrusions into the center pulp. You may also detect early signs of gum disease and other dental problems, so schedule your next cleaning if it has been six months or more since you visit your dentist.