What does a root canal feel like?

Root canals are a common procedure that removes the soft center of the tooth, which is known as the pulp. The pulp consists of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels that all help the tooth grow. Root canal procedures are performed due to inflammation or infection of the pulp.

When is a root canal needed?

As mentioned before, root canals are performed due to infected or inflamed pulp within the tooth. The goal is to remove the infected area to best preserve the structure of the tooth. Damage to the pulp can be caused by:

  • Tooth decay
  • Chipped or cracked tooth
  • Injury to the tooth
  • Cavities

Symptoms of damaged pulp include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Sensation of heat in your gums
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Unexplainable sharp pain around tooth or in mouth 

Are root canals painful?

The root canal procedure itself is not painful due to local anesthetic, but there may be some discomfort following the procedure. This can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.

Pain associated with root canals is generally due to an infection around the tooth. If you’re experiencing pain, let your dentist know so they can check for infection and treat it accordingly. Signs of infection after root canals include:

  • Pain or discomfort from applying pressure or eating
  • Discharge
  • Red, warm, or swollen tissue
  • Tenderness
  • Bad taste in your mouth

Root canal aftercare

Just like with any procedure, aftercare is essential in the recovery process. Because discomfort following the procedure is normal, you’ll want to get over-the-counter pain medication to manage it. Avoid eating hard or chewy foods as well as brushing or flossing aggressively. Keep an eye on your tooth and track any swelling, sensitivity, etc., and be sure to follow up with your dentist.

If you’re preparing for a root canal procedure, don’t stress. It’s a very safe, common procedure, and as long as you care for your tooth properly, you will be healed in no time.