The answer should be an emphatic "YES!" Fortunately, dentistry has developed new techniques for delivering local anesthetics painlessly. These techniques also assure that the anesthetics act more rapidly and produce a more "profound" level of anesthesia. Additionally, modern dental procedures utilize better technologies that are generally much less traumatic and invasive than those of the past. The result of these advancements is that patients should have minimal or no discomfort during the tooth numbing and/or treatment procedures. Root canal treatment should not cause pain, but rather relieve it when present and keep it from reoccurring. Unfortunately, dental pain may also have a psychological component, possibly stemming from a negative past experience, a story in the media, or even the fear of the unknown. Sometimes these situations can prove challenging for the patient and the dentist to control. Examples include:
These and other distresses are real to the patient. Much of the time, however, the distress can be reduced or eliminated if the patient discusses it with the dentist and gets understanding and reassurance. The doctor and the patient must work together in these situations to make certain that the patient feels as comfortable, trusting, and informed as possible in the dental environment. Most individuals can do this satisfactorily. If patients continue to feel significant distress, even after having these discussions with the dentists, they should be aware that there are supplementary modalities for which they might be candidates. These modalities include:
These sedative techniques and medicines may also be helpful if particularly lengthy treatment procedures are necessary in specific situations.
With all of the advancements in pharmaceuticals and in their delivery, there should be no need for any patient to delay root canal treatment because of fear that the treatment will be painful.
By Clifford J. Ruddle, DDS, in collaboration with Philip M. Smith, DDS