Is Root Canal Painful? Why a tooth requires root canal treatment if the nerve is already dead?

Article by Dr Raha Sepehrara

A root canal is a treatment recommended to treat a tooth that is badly infected or decayed. It is a therapy that is performed to save and repair the affected tooth, at cases where the pulp (inside of the tooth) has become damaged, or the nerve of the tooth has become infected. During this treatment, both the pulp and nerve are removed, and the inside of the tooth is properly cleaned and then sealed.

Many people wonder why they need to undergo a root canal treatment if the nerve of the tooth is already dead. Makes sense to ask, and here is why root canal is considered a very significant procedure to follow after the death of a tooth.

Hazards from Leaving a Tooth with a Dead Nerve Untreated

There are many risks of not getting a root canal in a tooth that actually needs one. Besides tooth loss, a root canal is an essential procedure that helps prevent serious dental infection, as well as dental abscess, even life-threatening conditions, such as sepsis. Other than that, a root canal treatment will also help prevent the spread of the infection to another tooth. Also, this infection could even metastasise to the neck and face, causing even more problems. If left untreated, it can spread to the brain and result in death. What is more, root canal treatment protects against bacterial endocarditis, cellulitis, stroke, and heart attack. Of the numerous cases of people that have died from an untreated dental infection that has become complicated is Queen Elizabeth I of England, in 1603. The next best thing to a root canal therapy is having the tooth extracted once and for all, but then, you will have to have another restorative treatment to fill the empty space, such as a bridge or implant.

Why is this Happening?

As discussed in another article, your immune system (defence) recognises the dead tissue inside the tooth as a foreign body and attacks it to protect you from it. Plus, in the majority of cases, dead tissue contains living bacteria. Therefore, it is an active source of infection. The only way to directly access the dead pulp and infection is by performing a root canal treatment. Left untreated, it can spread further into the bone and develop an infection with all the serious side effects previously discussed.

Is a Root Canal Painful?

People believe a root canal is a painful process. This is the biggest myth ever. Generally, we use anaesthetic in a root canal procedure, even in cases where the tooth is dead. If there is a speck of life in the tooth, meaning there is some feeling in the tooth, we administer local anaesthetic. For nervous patients and people afraid of dental procedures in general (dental phobias), we practice Sedation Dentistry at The Dental Suite; a revolutionary method to make the patient feel completely relaxed and the overall experience a very pleasant one. With the help of state-of-the-art technology and advanced training in treating nervous patients, as well as sedation dentistry, we make sure we provide utmost care to all our patients, in a specially designed clinic that promotes a sense of calmness and relaxation.

If you have a tooth that needs a root canal, it won’t get any better by waiting. Now you know the dangers you are putting yourself into by postponing your visit to your dentist.

Don’t let time fly though. Book your first consultation and let’s prevent a dental condition from deteriorating into something more serious, even life-threatening. You owe it to yourself and the ones you cherish. 



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