One of the most common reasons patients visit an endodontist is because they’re experiencing dental pain. Pain from a tooth infection can result in referred pain—pain experienced in one part of the mouth, though the problem tooth is in another part.
Dental providers need to have an understanding of the pain and frustration their patients experience in order to treat them. Not only are they dealing with pain on a level that’s negatively impacting their quality of life, but they’re also not sure where the pain originates.
Our patients’ pain may be so severe that it doesn’t just impact the teeth. They may have soreness or pain around the gums, jawbone, jaw joints, face, and neck.
As healthcare providers, we never want to see our patients in pain—and we absolutely don’t want to contribute to it. Therefore, our team of endodontic specialists works hard to find ways to alleviate or eliminate pain as quickly (and as permanently) as possible. Our goal is always for our patients to leave the office feeling pain free and on the road to excellent oral health.
Sometimes it’s necessary to provide patients with pain management options before they receive treatment. Typically, the reason for this is a raging infection that causes so much pain that opening the tooth to treat it will cause the patient even more pain.
In these situations, we will likely recommend the patient take oral antibiotics and pain medication before treatment. Then, we can perform root canal therapy with minimal discomfort.
Another way we help keep our patients comfortable is to provide pain management options during endodontic treatment.
A key player in this is local anesthesia. We tend to use lidocaine with epinephrine, but we have other non-epinephrine options for patients with heart conditions.
We start by placing topical anesthetic to numb the gum tissue—again, to make the patient as comfortable as possible. Even patients without a toothache don’t like getting an injection, so topical anesthetic is a significant aid to reducing discomfort.
Once the gingiva is numb, we can proceed with our lidocaine injection. Depending on the patient’s heartbeat and level of natural adrenaline, we may need to deliver multiple injections throughout the procedure to ensure their comfort. However, the patient will not likely feel these injections because the tooth and gums are already at least partially numb.
For patients with difficulty numbing completely, we may also apply some lidocaine directly to the nerve canals once we’ve opened the tooth.
We never want our patients to feel like they need to “grin and bear it” during dental visits. If they’re experiencing pain, we want to know about it. Trying to push through pain will cause more pain.
Sometimes we must stop the procedure, apply a medicated dressing to the tooth, and send the patient home with antibiotics and oral pain medications. In these instances, the patient can return in approximately one week to complete the procedure. When this happens, we’re able to complete treatment without much discomfort at all.
We encourage all patients to inform us of their pain tolerance and discomfort experiences during treatment. It’s the only way to provide truly comfortable service.
Besides local anesthetic, we offer sedation therapy for patients with extreme pain or dental anxiety. We have three options for patients:
We’ll discuss each option with our patients to determine the best course of action for their physical and emotional needs. One size doesn’t fit all in pain management, so we’ll work with patients, their caretakers (if they have them), and our anesthesiologist to find a unique solution to our patient’s needs.
Another goal of our team is to keep patients from experiencing post-procedure pain. Granted, many patients will experience much less pain after treatment than they did while enduring a toothache. But we’re not satisfied with “at least it’s not throbbing anymore.” We want patients to feel as comfortable as possible after a procedure.
To that end, we will prescribe oral antibiotics if an infection is still present and recommend certain pain medications for intense pain. In most instances, over-the-counter pain relievers (NSAIDs and acetaminophen) can do much to alleviate endodontic pain.
Before making any medication recommendations, we will confer with your health history and, if necessary, your primary healthcare provider. Some pain medications aren’t a good option for patients with specified existing conditions, such as heart disease. We want to take your health needs into consideration to ensure not only good pain management but also good overall health!
Some patients are interested in alternative pain management approaches. While we aren’t against these approaches, we don’t use them instead of our traditional approach. However, we don’t take issue with patients wanting to use them in tandem with what we prescribe.
Some non-pharmacological approaches include:
Endodontics is a specialty in which precision meets compassion. Yes, we want to provide high-quality treatment, but that has to be coupled with great care to allow us to provide a pain-free dental experience.
Patient trust is not just built on our commitment to excellence. It’s also built on our dedication to making them feel heard, important, safe, and comfortable. We do that by providing a pain management system tailored to each patient’s needs.
Discover the difference at Renovo Endodontic Studio. Schedule an appointment to learn how Renovo can help you serve your community’s endodontic needs.