Root canal is a dental procedure typically performed to repair or save a tooth that is infected or badly decaying. To save or repair the tooth, the dentist will have to remove the nerve and the pulp in order to thoroughly clean the inside of the incisor. Due to the nature of the treatment, it’s no wonder that root canal therapy is by far one of the most feared dental procedures.
Over the years, numerous studies reveal that the patients’ fear of root canal treatments is unjustified. In fact, most people who dread visits to the dentist’s office base their fear on someone else’s experiences, rather than their own. Unfortunately, the amount of inaccurate information regarding the root canal procedure prevents many individuals from making the best decision about their oral health.
In case your dentist has recommended a root canal treatment, take note that the therapy is preferable to ignoring the problem and having your tooth extracted. Before you automatically dismiss the treatment, read on to find out some of the most common myths associated with root canal therapy.
1. Root canal is extremely painful
The idea that root canal therapy is agonizing comes from the early methods of performing the treatment. Not only are these treatments not painful, but root canal is often conducted to relieve aches caused by the inflammation of the pulp chamber or infections. In addition, when you have a low threshold of pain, the dentist will administer anesthesia to make the entire experience more comfortable.
2. Root canal causes serious illnesses in the long run
Thanks to a research study conducted almost 100 years ago, many people still believe that during the procedure there’s a high chance that bacteria gets trapped inside the tooth and leads to serious illness in the long run. In reality, there’s no valid scientific evidence to support this theory. Moreover, bacteria represent a constant presence in the oral cavity and there is no real threat to a person’s health.
3. Root canal is required only when the tooth becomes too painful to bear
Even though the treatment is recommended following an infection or inflammation, pain is not necessarily a mandatory symptom in this case. In general, dentist can suggest root canal therapy on dead teeth to prevent the infection from spreading inside the oral cavity.
4. Root canal only provides short-term advantages
Because some have experienced tooth damage months after undergoing a root canal, many people who fear the dentist believe that the treatment only has short-term advantages. A tendency to associate teeth breaking inside the mouth with root canal does exist, but in reality, a poorly performed restoration actually causes the damage.
Root canal entails removing the nerve from inside the tooth, thus eliminating the blood supply to the incisor and leaving it brittle. Depending on the size of the filling as well as other forces – resulting from grinding, eating and even laughing – the tooth can suffer damage. Sometimes, the fracturing can be the direct consequence of not installing a crown to support the tooth.
5. Root canal necessitates many appointments to be completed
The root canal treatment is actually a straightforward procedure that doesn’t take more than one or two sessions. In the event that the infection is extensive or persistent, your dentist will refer you to an endodontist, a professional who specializes in this type of therapy. While the procedure can be completed even in a single appointment, take note that the next phase entails restoration therapy, aimed at making the tooth functional again; this phase is not considered part of the root canal treatment.
6. Root canal kills your tooth
Granted, the therapy entails removing the pulp and the nerve from inside the tooth, thus eliminating the blood supply and associated nutrients. However, the main objective of root canal treatments is to clean the tooth’s interior and allow it to heal. Instead of killing the tooth, the procedure eliminates bacteria that cause infection and inflammation.
On a side note, the nerve and blood vessels inside the pulp chamber usually develop during childhood. Their primary role is to alert you when something is wrong with the incisor, be it inflammation, decay, infection or trauma.
7. Root canal is inferior to tooth extraction
As any dentist will point out, the best option for your oral health is to save your natural teeth. The extraction entails pulling out the tooth and replacing it with an artificial incisor. While it may be necessary in some cases, artificial teeth come with numerous disadvantages.
For instance, due to the sensitive material it is made of, a synthetic tooth can prevent you from enjoying a plethora of foods that could stain it or break it. At the same time, because you are forced to avoid certain types of foods, it could mean you’re unable to maintain an adequate nutrient balance in your diet. This is why root canal is always preferable to an extraction.