Do I Need a Root Canal if There’s No Pain?


The dentist told you you need root canal treatment But, you don’t feel any pain. Do you even need a root canal after all? You’ll be surprised to find that you may need a root canal even if there is no pain. Luckily, it’s not as scary as rumors and myths make it out to be.

Find out what a root canal treatment is and why you may need it. We also answer your most pressing questions about your upcoming root canal procedure to put your mind at ease.


What Is a Root Canal Treatment?

The purpose of a root canal treatment is to clean out tooth decay while preserving the healthy parts of your tooth. It’s a tiny drill that the dentist uses to get rid of the decayed tooth pulp, root, and nerve in your infected tooth.

After the dentist removed the decay, they disinfect the area, fill the empty roots, and seal the tooth to prevent new decay. The tooth is weak after a root canal treatment, so they usually seal it with a crown.

A root canal specialist is called an endodontist, but a general dentist is also capable of completing this procedure as well. Generally, you don’t need to be put under when you have a root canal treatment. The dentist will apply local anesthetics to numb the area and prevent pain.

Do I Need a Root Canal If There Is No Pain?

A root canal sounds like a serious procedure. So, if there’s no pain, then why do you need to go through it?

The most important thing to remember is that root canals prevent further decay and save as much of your tooth as possible. Even if you don’t feel pain now, you definitely will when the decay reaches the nerves of your tooth. 

And losing your tooth is the smallest concern at that point...

Untreated tooth decay can spread to your lymph nodes and even to your eye. But, it can get even more serious. Eventually, it can develop into heart disease, causing you heart attacks and strokes

At that point, tooth decay is definitely a life-threatening condition. So, if a root canal can prevent that and save your teeth at the same time, that’s a good deal.

Symptoms That Mean You Need a Root Canal

Keeping track of your dental health is crucial for your overall health. So, if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s worth visiting the dentist because you may need a root canal.

  1. Pain: Yes, a decaying tooth can be painful, especially if the decay spread to your nerves in your tooth. In fact, pain is usually the most commonly noticed sign of tooth decay. You may feel a persistent pain, or just pain when you eat or touch your tooth.
  2. Tooth discoloration: When your tooth pulp dies, it can discolor your teeth. If you see grey or black spots on your teeth, it may be time for a root canal.
  3. Sensitivity to temperature: If you feel pain or discomfort when you eat hot or cold foods for an extended period of time, it may be a sign that the blood vessels and nerves in your tooth are damaged.
  4. Swollen gums: Swelling around your tooth may be a sign of an infection. If it’s painful to the touch, you should definitely visit a dentist.
  5. Tooth mobility: Unless you’re a child about to lose your baby teeth, your teeth moving aren’t a good sign. It may be because your roots or the gums surrounding your tooth are infected. And you may need a tooth canal treatment to fix that.

Answering Your Top Questions About Root Canal Treatments

Root canals are like the boogeyman. It’s the go-to scary procedure that fuels dental anxiety. But, it’s really not as scary of a procedure as rumors make it out to be. Let’s bust some myths about root canals by answering your most pressing questions. 

Hopefully, knowing more about a root canal will put your mind at ease.

Does a Root Canal Hurt?

Of course, the most common question and misconception about root canal treatments. The pain. Drilling inside the tooth toward the roots sounds like a very painful ordeal. But, you may be surprised to learn that it’s very rare for a root canal to be painful.

Dentists use sophisticated anesthetics to numb the area and you practically don’t even feel a thing. It’s the same as having a cavity filled.

It’s important to realize that tooth canals actually relieve and prevent pain. Decaying nerves in your tooth hurt a lot. So, even if you don’t feel any pain now, and your dentist recommends a root canal treatment, it’s best to take their advice.

Are Root Canals Expensive?

This is a difficult question to answer because every dentist has their own rates. Generally, root canal treatments won’t break the bank. But that doesn’t mean they’re “cheap” either.

Usually, a root canal will be more expensive than a dental filling, because it requires more time and expertise. But, it’s much cheaper than tooth extraction and replacement would be.

Does the Pain Disappear Immediately After a Root Canal?

If you do feel pain in your tooth, we have good news. Root canals are very successful at alleviating dental pain. However, no treatment comes without a little swelling and sensitivity immediately after the fact. 

This pain should be mild and very short-lived. For most patients, minor aches and sensitivities are gone within a few weeks after treatment.

After this point, you should have no pain whatsoever. The ache in the infected tooth will be gone because the bacteria have been removed.

Can I Eat or Drink Before a Root Canal?

Yes, make sure you eat before you have a root canal treatment. Since you’re not under general anesthesia, there’s no danger in eating beforehand. And you probably won’t feel like eating for a couple of hours after the root canal because your mouth is sore.

It’s important to avoid eating until all the effects of the local anesthesia are gone. You risk biting your tongue and causing injury otherwise.

However, we would advise you not to drink alcohol before a root canal treatment. You’ll want to be in the best shape possible. Being drunk or hungover won’t just be uncomfortable for you, it’s also dangerous for the dentist working in your mouth.

How Long Does a Root Canal Surgery Take?

Usually, root canals can take anywhere between an hour and three hours. The time varies based on the severity of your infection. 

A mild infection requires a simple root canal procedure. Your dentist can finish it with one visit. However, if the infection is bad, you may need two visits to fully alleviate any risk of decay.

Will I Need a Dental Crown After My Root Canal Treatment?

After the root canal, your tooth is weak. It’s also more prone to breaking or infection. A great way to protect and strengthen it is with a crown. Alternatively, a filling can also strengthen your tooth.

In some cases, you may even get a crown fitted immediately after the root canal. But, since it is quite a lengthy treatment on its own, most schedule it separately.

What’s the Average Age Range of People Needing Root Canal Treatment?

There’s no set age for when you get a root canal. Children who don’t brush their teeth are just are likely to need it as seniors whose gums receded past the roots. Still, one thing’s for certain: bad dental hygiene is the primary cause for needing root canal treatment.

That said, there’s definitely a higher percentage of people needing root canals between the ages of 20-40.

Save Money on Your Root Canal Treatment

Even if you don’t feel any pain, you may need a root canal treatment to get rid of an infection. If saving your tooth isn’t enough, it can also save your life. The only thing it can’t do is save your wallet. However, the Carefree Dental Card can.

With Carefree Dental, you can unlock huge savings on root canal treatments as well as other dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* per visit on your root canal bill in most instances.

Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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