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Root Canals

Will this really help?

08/05/2006

Question:

If I asked my dentist to give me some topical to numb me up before giving me an injection prior to my root canal, will it really help with the pain of the injection? If so, how much or what percentage?

Answer:

Topical anesthetics can help reduce the pain of the needle insertion in certain areas of the mouth - mainly the front teeth. Statistically, however, the pain for injections for back teeth is not reduced when topical anesthetic is used. One must recognize that this is looking at a population of people. The actual effect a topical anesthetic may have on any individual can vary.

Unfortunately, there is no reportable percentage of pain reduction since pain cannot really be measured with numbers. Pain is such a subjective feeling/experience that there is no real absolute standard of measurement. What one person may consider excruciating pain, another person may rate as only mild pain. There are many factors that affect pain perception. Pain studies can only suggest potential trends in treatment but not guarantee individual results.

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Response by:

John M Nusstein, DDS John M Nusstein, DDS
Associate Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University