The term “root canal” can refer to both the inner part of the tooth where the pulp is located, and to the dental procedure used to remove infected material and relieve root canal pain. (1)
What Causes Root Canal Pain?
Common causes of root canal pain include:
- Damage: Tooth decay that has penetrated the outer layers of the teeth causes root canal pain.
- Decay: Cracks or chips in teeth can cause tooth decay and root canal pain.
- Disease: Repeated dental procedures in the same area can promote deep tooth decay and root canal pain. (1), (2)
Step-by-Step Root Canal Pain Review
Here’s what you can expect when you have a root canal procedure to relieve root canal pain:
- Setting the Scene: Your dental professional will take an x-ray to determine the extent of the infection.
- Numbing Up: You will receive a local anesthetic to make you more comfortable, and a sheet of rubber called a “rubber dam” will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry.
- Diving In: Next, your dentist or endodontist will drill an access hole into the tooth and use special tools to remove the damaged nerve and pulp tissue.
- Closing Out: Once the infected material is removed, your dentist will either seal the tooth on the same day, or put in a temporary filling to protect you from root canal pain until a customized crown is ready. Sealing the tooth involves placement of a rubber compound into the root canal where the decayed material was removed. A filling is placed over the access hole.
- Finishing Up: A crown, filling, or other tooth restoration completes the process of relieving your root canal pain. Many people who have undergone the procedure say it is no worse than having a cavity filled. (1), (2)
Do Root Canal Procedures Really Relieve Root Canal Pain?
Root canal pain is relieved after most root canal procedures. Data from root canal procedures show a 95 percent success rate, and many teeth that are preserved with root canal procedures can last for the rest of your life. But complications that could occur and cause new root canal pain include:
- A breakdown of the dental sealant
- An unrecognized crack in the tooth root
- A defective crown or a filling that allows bacteria back into the tooth pulp (1), (2)
The Cost of Treating Root Canal Pain
A root canal procedure is less expensive than having a tooth removed and replaced with a dental implant. On average, the cost of a root canal in the United States is about $350 for an incisor and at least $520 for a molar. The cost varies depending on the severity of disease and the type of dental professional who treats the problem. An endodontist may charge more than a general dentist, for example. (1), (2)
Prevent Future Root Canal Pain
To help prevent the need for future root canal procedures to relieve root canal pain, follow a regular oral care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing, and see a dental professional regularly to check the condition of your root canal treatment and any crowns or fillings. (1), (2)