I'm Nervous About My Root Canal

I'm Nervous About My Root Canal

If there is a significant fear in the dental world, it’s the root canal. According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), 67% of Americans say the fear of pain most concerns them about having root canal treatment. 

Breaking it down even further, about 65% of women and 53% of men claim to be afraid of the procedure. The AAE, whose members specialize in root canal treatments, has found the fear problem so severe that it holds an annual “Root Canal Awareness Week.”

Fortunately, the big bad root canal is mostly a myth. The procedure is performed with a local anesthetic and isn’t any more painful than getting a filling. While some anxiety is normal, these procedures shouldn’t be feared. 

Do you need a root canal? If so, visit our team at Smile Boutique in Mount Vernon, New York. We’re proud to offer state-of-the-art and comprehensive dental care for your whole family. In this blog, Wayne Hofflich, DDS, discusses root canal basics, who needs a root canal, and what to expect during your treatment. 

The anatomy of a tooth

There are three layers to a tooth: visible enamel, dentin, and the soft pulp at the center of the tooth. The pulp holds the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue of the tooth. As your adult tooth is developing, the pulp is hard at work creating enamel and dentin while also providing nourishment. But once a tooth is finished developing, it can get nourishment from the tissues around it, and the pulp is no longer needed. 

When pulp needs to go

It’s still best to have a healthy pulp at the base of every tooth. But damaged pulp, whether it be from injury, infection, or inflammation, can cause significant pain. When that happens, the pulp needs to be removed. 

A few things can cause pulp damage, including untreated cavities, cracks, deep chips, or an injury to the mouth. When left untreated, the damaged pulp becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to abscesses or even bone deterioration. In these cases, it’s best to remove the pulp while keeping the structure of the tooth intact. 


Swelling in the face, neck, and head is a common symptom. Other signs you may need a root canal include: 

Discoloring of the teeth is also associated with damaged pulp. 

Root canal treatment 

A root canal treatment will be done in one or two appointments. If the pulp is severely damaged and infected, our team will place medicine inside the tooth. 

Before the treatment starts, the area will be numbed by a topical gel and an anesthetic so you won’t feel any pain. Once you are numb, our team will access the damaged pulp and remove it. Once the pulp is removed, your tooth is sealed or capped by a crown to protect it. 

You won’t feel pain during the procedure, although you may feel some sensitivity for the first couple of days afterward. Over-the-counter pain medication will be enough to limit the sensitivity.

To learn more about root canals, book an appointment online or over the phone with Smile Boutique today.

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