When tooth decay isn’t treated and damage is done to the point where salvage isn’t likely, root canal treatment is often suggested. During a root canal, a dentist removes the pulp from the center of a tooth and then fills the pulp cavity. This prevents or treats a painful infection and the spread to other teeth. Once the root canal is complete, a permanent filling or crown is often needed. Thanks to modern technology, root canal therapy is similar to having a routine filling and can usually be completed in one or two appointments. Without receiving treatment, it is likely that a tooth with significant decay will eventually be lost, leading to a host of other oral health issues. By saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment, patients will be able to continue to chew efficiently, maintain normal biting force and sensation, have a natural appearance, and above all, protect surrounding teeth. And further benefits are being identified even now, as doctors continue to study the benefits of this dental procedure.
A recent study published in the Journal of Endodontics found that root canal therapy can reduce multiple dimensions of pain, including intensity, duration, and its interference with daily activity, according to an article from Dr.Bicuspid.com. The large, observational study included 62 dentists located in five geographic regions including Alabama/Mississippi, Florida/Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon/Washington, and Denmark/Sweden. 655 patients between the ages of 19 and 70 participated, all who had permanent teeth requiring root canal therapy. Data was collected immediately before and after the procedure, as well as one week after treatment. To measure pain intensity, The Graded Chronic Pain Scale was used, with 0 meaning no pain and 10 indicating the most severe. Results of the study included the following observations:
- Patients reporting severe or worst pain intensity (7 or higher) declined by 31% after the procedure.
- The proportion of patients reporting no pain after receiving root canal therapy increased by 15%.
- Patients with pain intensities of 4 or higher before the procedure experienced reductions in pain, while those with mild pain (1-3) had no change.
- A reduction in pain duration was found when comparing the number of days in pain from the week before the procedure to the week after.
- A similar reduction was also found in the time patients felt their pain interfered with their daily activities.
In general, the results showed that root canal therapy reduced patients’ pain intensity, duration, and related burden, further supporting the benefits of performing the procedure and saving the natural tooth.