Root canals. Very few treatments offer such dramatic benefits for patients but have such a bad rep. People seem afraid of potential pain, have heard horror stories about complications, or carry other misconceptions about the procedure.
A root canal not only gets you out of pain but also can save the impacted tooth and its neighbors.
What is a root canal?
To discuss common myths and misconceptions about root canals, you must first understand what it is. Patients typically need a root canal when there is inflammation or infection in the roots of a tooth. Inside your tooth is a soft tissue called pulp. This tissue contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, which help grow the root of your tooth during its development. A fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it. During a root canal treatment, your dentist will remove the pulp inside the tooth, clean, disinfect and shape the root canals, and place a filling to seal the space.
Doesn’t sound so bad, right? So why are there so many myths about the procedure? We suspect dental history is to blame. In the olden days, dentistry was not what it is today. Let’s take a look at three of the most persistent myths.
Myth 1: Root canals are painful. BUSTED
Welcome to modern dentistry! Today, dentists have a whole arsenal of medications and methods available to them to make patients comfortable before, during and after the procedure. Some swelling is normal after a root canal. Some may also feel tenderness or pain when they bite their teeth together. However, this tends to be nothing some rest and medication won’t fix.
Myth 2: Root canals may have serious side effects. BUSTED
Roughly a century ago – in the 1920s, some dentists believed it was better to extract a tooth than perform root canal treatment. They believed bacteria may spread or cause infections in other parts of the body. Their ideas were based on outdated thinking, and these theories have since long been debunked by modern science. As early as the 1950s, dentists started recommending root canal treatments because it made people healthier, and preserved their natural teeth. Getting a root canal in the 21st century will not get you sick or hurt your teeth.
Myth 3: A root canal may need to be redone. BUSTED
If a root canal is done correctly, the tooth should not cause any issues as the dentist removes the infected pulp from the tooth. Once removed, there are no bacteria left to cause problems in there. A root canal done wrong, could theoretically leave some infection in the tooth and could cause issues at a later point. We suspect that this is the root of this myth (pun intended). Another potential source of this misconception may be a different problem altogether. After the procedure, the tooth will be restored, and some people may have issues with aging restorations down the road. People may associate this with their root canal, but it may actually be a failed restoration.
So, if your dentist recommends this procedure don’t be afraid. Get it done. And should you hear somebody else repeat any of the myths above, share what you learned here today. Dentists everywhere will thank you.