Commonly Asked Root Canal Procedure Questions

It can be scary to learn that a painful tooth requires a root canal, as the procedure has a negative reputation. People often describe how much they hate something by saying that they would rather have a root canal. Despite this, it is an easy and standard procedure that many people undergo in their lifetime. With a little bit of knowledge on the subject, it is easy to see that root canals are not as bad as people make them seem.

Common questions about root canals

When is a root canal necessary?

Root canals are one method of treating infected teeth. The pulp inside a tooth can become infected for numerous reasons, one of which is tooth decay. Warning signs include major tooth pain, excessive tenderness around the area, and possible fever due to infection. If any of these are present, it is time to make an appointment with the family dentist.

After a thorough examination, the dentist should be able to determine the cause of the pain. The next step is to decide what method to use to treat the pain. The dentist should explain any possible options and help guide the patient’s decision. At this point, a root canal may be considered the most effective.

What happens if patients forego a root canal?

While a root canal can seem scary, the alternatives can be much worse. Without a root canal, a decayed or infected tooth may need extraction. If left untreated, the tooth decay causing the need for the procedure can cause an abscess which can spread throughout the body. These infections do not go away naturally and require treatment. Things will only get worse if an infection of any kind is left untreated.

Is getting a root canal painful?

This is the most common question anyone asks. Root canal procedures have always had a bad reputation throughout history, but medicine has advanced significantly over time. Because of this, root canal procedures usually do not hurt any more than regular fillings. A root canal can decrease tooth pain because it fixes the infection causing pain and inflammation in the first place.

How long does a root canal take?

Every root canal procedure is different. The length of the process varies based on the location of the infected tooth and the extent of the damage. A typical root canal lasts one or two hours and may take one or two appointments to complete. Most people will be able to drive themselves home from the office, but if a patient is especially sensitive to pain or needs stronger painkillers, then it is recommended that they have someone else available to do the driving.

What kind of sedation is used?

Most root canals are performed using a local anesthetic. Patients are awake and can respond to dentist instructions. Some nervous patients may elect to take a valium before the operation. In some cases, patients with extreme anxiety can receive sedation and be unconcious for the operation. A licensed anesthesiologist will be present for the entire procedure to monitor patients with sensitive gag reflexes, intense fear of dentists, special needs, sensitive teeth and cases where local anesthesia is not enough.

When can patients resume regular activity?

While everyone recovers from surgery differently, it is generally safe to return to work the next day. Recovery time depends on how complicated the surgery was as well. The affected tooth might ache for a few days after the procedure, but the pain only requires over the counter medicines. Patients should avoid chewing with that tooth for a few days but should otherwise be able to return to their regular schedule.

A dentist will recommend using ice packs to reduce any swelling. Also, patients should be cautioned to keep an eye out for unexpected symptoms like a sudden fever or pus in the area of the procedure. If either of these occurs, it is imperative to contact the dentist who performed the root canal immediately. Even though the recovery period is quite reasonable, it might be best to consider taking a day off or having the procedure done on a Friday to give the body ample recovery time.

Is a root canal right for you?

People should not be afraid of a root canal. It is a standard procedure with a short recovery. Ignoring an initial infection can lead to more severe problems that can be worse than going through a root canal. Dentists will work with patients to make sure that the procedure is as stress-free as possible, including addressing anesthesia issues and proper post-procedure care.

Request an appointment here: or call Visalia Care Dental at (559) 975-1213 for an appointment in our Visalia office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Can a Cracked Tooth be Saved with a Root Canal and Crown.

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