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Root canal and pain go hand in hand in many people’s minds. Generally our fears and anxiety stem from others telling us their experiences and not from our own. A root canal (also referred to as RCT or root canal therapy) is a dental procedure where the damaged nerve (also called the pulp) of a tooth is removed. Following removal of the nerve, the canals of the tooth are cleaned and sterilized. Following this cleaning process the canals are filled and sealed permanently to avoid future dental infection. If treatment is not undertaken, the dental infection will affect the tooth along with surrounding oral structures (like gums and bone tissues) and a dental abscess can form in the area as the infection looks to escape.

The reason for the removal of the tooth’s nerve is because these nerves (along with associated blood vessels) is responsible with providing hydration and nutrients to our teeth. They also give us the ability to sense hot and cold.

Surveys over the years find that root canal therapy is considered the most feared of all dental procedures. These surveys also found people’s views on root canal therapy is based on what others have told them and not their own individual experiences. This leads to people believing mostly inaccurate stories about root canals. It is the fear of the unknown as I like to call it.

Root Canal Therapy Marielaina Perrone DDS
Root Canal Therapy Can Save Your Smile!

Myths Surrounding Root Canal Therapy

Myth #1 – Root Canal Therapy Is Painful

Root canal therapy does not directly cause pain, this therapy is designed to relieve it! With modern anesthetics, techniques, and technology, root canal therapy is no more painful than getting a simple filling. The major cause of root canal therapy pain is the infection that a patient may present with. An infected site will cause extreme pain that can be difficult to get under control initially.

Your dentist will make sure you are comfortably anesthetized and relaxed prior to beginning root canal therapy. The removal of the pain-causing infected pulp from your tooth will relieve any pressure that is built up causing some of that discomfort. After the infected tissues are cleaned out, your tooth will be sealed closed to keep out any further invading bacteria and repair the enamel of the tooth with a dental filling or a protective dental crown.

Myth #2 – Why Not Just Remove The Tooth?

A well trained dentist will always use tooth extraction as a “last resort” type dental treatment. Nothing functions as well as your own natural teeth, so tooth preservation whenever possible is always the best course of treatment. Root canal therapy allows you to keep your natural tooth. This prevents you from having to resort to other extensive dental treatments, such as dental bridges or dental implants, to help replace the lost tooth and restore your smile.

Myth #3 – Root Canal Therapy Is Only For Teeth Causing Pain

Sometimes a dental infection has become so severe that the tooth actually dies. You may no longer be feeling any pain but infection is still present and damaging your underlying bone structure. A lot of the pain and discomfort we feel when dental infection is present is pressure. A dental infection can sometimes cause a bump in the gum tissue where the infection can leak out relieving that pressure and allowing it to feel better even though it is not. Even at this point, root canal therapy can still save the tooth structure itself. This is one of the reasons for routine dental examinations and radiographs. These visits can let us see changes as they happen before they become bigger issues. Regular visits will actually save you money over the long haul but sometimes that is hard to understand.

Root Canal Therapy Marielaina Perrone DDS
Painless Root Canal Therapy Is Possible

Myth #4 – Root Canal Therapy Takes A Long Time

Most root canal therapy treatment can be completed in 1-2 visits. If there is no active, serious dental infection present they can sometimes be finished in just one appointment or you may have to return to complete the filling or crown procedure. The condition of your tooth following root canal therapy and the severity of infection dictate the treatment time needed. Sometimes a dental crown is not needed but is usually recommended as the tooth will become more brittle without the natural nutrients and blood flowing thru the tooth.

Myth #5 – Dental Infections Are Common Following Root Canal Therapy

A re infection of the tooth root can happen, but it is not very common. If dental infection returns to the tooth, further dental treatment will be needed. The newest dental materials and technques used to fill a tooth following root canal therapy have been specifically designed to significantly reduce the likelihood of developing another dental infection in that tooth.

Root Canal Therapy Myths Conclusion

Root canal therapy has developed a very bad reputation over the years. Rest assured with new techniques it can be a painless experience. If you are feeling dental anxiety speak to your dentist and they can offer you advice on how to best cope.



Dental Infections (also referred to as an abscess) generally develops as a result of untreated tooth decay and poor oral hygiene. However, a dental infection can also develop from other reasons previous dental work or traumatic injury. When a dental infection begins to develop, a pocket of pus forms in the mouth as a result of an overwhelming growth of bacteria. Symptoms of a dental infection often includes swelling, pain (often radiating away from area), and sensitivity in the area. It is vital to seek professional treatment as without proper and timely treatment, the dental infection may spread to other areas of the jaw or even the brain.

Tooth decay and cavities are very common. About 90% of adults ages 20–64 have had prior tooth decay. Also, almost 30% of people in the same age group have untreated tooth decay. Treating tooth decay early is important to prevent further complications such as dental infections which can often lead to tooth loss.

Anyone who experiences dental infections should see a dentist immediately to prevent the dental infections from spreading.

One of the initial options for a dentist is to recommend an antibiotic to kill dental infections. Some antibiotics will work better than others. This is due to the type of bacteria causing the actual infection., There may also be some over-the-counter pain medications to help relieve the dental infection symptoms temporarily.

Antibiotic Use For Dental Infections

Dentists generally only recommend antibiotics for dental infections. However, not all infected teeth will require antibiotics during treatment. In some instances, a dentist may be able to drain the infected area of pus, remove the infected tooth, or complete a root canal procedure to fix the issue. Antibiotics should not be used unless absolutely necessary to complete dental infections treatment.

Antibiotic Types And Dosages For Dental Infections

The type and dosage of antibiotic your dentist will recommend will vary depending on the type of bacteria that causes dental infections. Different antibiotics work in different ways to eliminate different strains of bacteria. There are over 150 different strains of bacteria that are present in the oral cavity. Many of these bacteria have the potential to grow and cause a dental infection. Treatment can change depending on the bacteria causing the dental infection, although, dentists simply recommend an antibiotic that works against many types. This gives them the best chance to handle the infection effectively and quickly.

Classes Of Penicillin For Dental Infections

Penicillin type drugs are common forms of antibiotics for dental infections. This includes penicillin and amoxicillin. Some dentists may also recommend amoxicillin with clavulanic acid, as that combination may help eliminate bacteria that are being unsuccessfully treated by previous drugs.

Typical dosages of amoxicillin for a dental infection are either 500 milligrams (mg) every 8 hours or 1,000 mg every 12 hours.

Typical dosages of amoxicillin with clavulanic acid are around 500–2,000 mg every 8 hours or 2,000 mg every 12 hours, depending on the minimum effective dosage.

However, some bacteria have been found to resist these drugs, making them less effective. In fact, many doctors now simply choose a different antibiotic as their 1st line of treatment.

Dentists must also be aware that some people are allergic to these drugs. Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to similar medications should tell their dentist immediately before receiving their treatment recommendation.

-Clindamycin

Clindamycin is highly effective against a wide range of infectious bacteria. Some researchers recommend clindamycin as the drug of choice to treat dental infections, as bacteria may be less likely to resist this drug than penicillin-class drugs.

A typical dosage of clindamycin is either 300 mg or 600 mg every 8 hours, depending on which dosage will be effective for the individual situation.

-Azithromycin

Azithromycin also is able to work against a wide variety of bacteria, working to halt their growth. It may be effective in treating some dental infections, though dentists may only recommend it to people who are allergic to penicillin-class drugs or who do not respond to them or other drugs such as clindamycin.

 The typical dosage of azithromycin is 500 mg every 24 hours for 3 consecutive days.

-Metronidazole

Metronidazole is an antibiotic uses to treat a number of infections by both doctors and dentists. This drug is typically not the 1st choice of treatment.

The dosage for metronidazole is around 500–750 mg every 8 hours.

Time To Begin Feeling Better?

The speed with which each antibiotic takes to work on the dental infection varies depending on many factors. These can include the severity of the infection and how effective the drug is at eliminating the infectious bacteria present.

It is imperative for people to complete a full round of antibiotics, taking all of the prescribed medication exactly how the dentist says to take it. A person may begin to notice their symptoms go away after a couple of doses, completing the full dosage of antibiotics helps prevent the infection from returning or getting stronger.

The majority of acute infections resolve in 3–7 days.

Side effects Of Antibiotics For Dental Infections

While antibiotics are very effective for dental infections they can have some possible side effects. These side effects will vary by antibiotic type and individual. It is important to speak with your dentist regarding possible side effects and what to expect.

Dental Infection Treatments Beyond Antibiotics

Antibiotics may help clear active dental infections, but the tooth will still need work to clear up the root of the dental  infection. Antibiotic treatment is just one part of the treatment.

Typical treatment for dental infection can include one or more of the following procedures:

-draining the abscess

-filling in any cavities

-performing a root canal

-extracting the infected tooth

Natural Remedies For Dental infections

Some over the counter remedies may also help “control” the symptoms of a dental infection. This can include over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Sodium naproxen (Alleve).

Other things to try to relive symptoms at home:

-gently rinsing the mouth with warm salt water

-rinsing gently with baking soda and water

-avoiding very hot or very cold foods to prevent temperature sensitivity

-chewing with the opposite side of the mouth

-brushing with a very soft toothbrush around the sensitive area

-avoiding very sharp, hard-to-chew foods that may bump into the sensitive area or become stuck in the teeth

-sleeping with your head elevated to relive pressure

Dental Infections Summary

Antibiotics are not the sole answer to dental infections. They are a part of a larger dental infection treatment. Most if not all dental infections require further dental work by your dentist. This can include a root canal or a tooth extraction.

Prompt dental treatment is important to keep dental infections from spreading and making things more dangerous and painful. Some helpful home remedies mentioned above may help keep inflammation down or ease pain while taking antibiotics and preparing for the recommended dental procedure. maintaining a good oral hygiene regimen, such as brushing and flossing each day and seeing a dentist for regular checkups, may help prevent dental infections and their complications.