A root canal means many things to different people.
How many myths do people believe about root canals? In fact, there are quite a few. Let’s debunk some of the most common ones, so you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you get one.
What is a root canal?
Very simply, root canals are used to treat infected or damaged teeth in which the pulp (innermost area) of the tooth has become diseased or injured. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, so when infection occurs here, it can cause pain and swelling, in addition to the damage to these important structures in your tooth.
To treat this problem, your dentist will remove all this diseased tissue from inside your tooth and then replace it with a permanent filling called gutta percha (GP), a rubber-like material. This material helps protect your pulp tissue from further damage and seals off the tooth so that it can be saved.
So here the myths of root canals you ought to know about…
Myth #1: Root canals hurt.
People who have had root canal procedures are like members of a secret club who want to tell you about their experience. But if you ask them how painful the procedure was, many will say they experienced very little pain. “It wasn’t bad” is a common response.
Root canals are not as painful as most people assume. In fact, it’s more uncomfortable than it is painful. The dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area, so you shouldn’t feel pain other than the injection of the anesthetic. After that, it should be smooth sailing.
Root canal therapy isn’t a painful or unpleasant experience. Many patients report feeling relieved after the procedure because they no longer have tooth pain or need antibiotics. You may even enjoy the perks of proper dental hygiene afterward.
Myth #2: Root canal therapy can fix any tooth
Dentists usually perform root canal therapy on teeth damaged or infected by decay, cracks or fractures. In some cases, a tooth may need to be removed because it has been badly broken or damaged by trauma, such as an accident or sports injury. We can tell you how likely a tooth can be saved through root canal therapy or whether extraction is a better option. In many cases, root canal therapy is possible and may allow you to save a tooth and avoid an implant or bridge.
Myth #3: Root canal therapy can cause health problems
You may sometimes read online that root canal therapy can cause health problems later. Depending on the source you read, they may claim that root canals increase the risk of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and more. Sources also claim that root canals release toxins into the bloodstream, triggering health problems. Fortunately, this is not backed by recent scientific evidence.
According to the American Association of Endodontics, root canal therapy is safe and effective therapy. However, it’s important that an experienced professional do this procedure. Inquire about how many root canals they routinely do. Unless they extract all the pulp and roots of the tooth, the root canal can fail later and need to be redone. Some dentists do root canals, and some endodontists specialize in doing them. Depending on the case, your dentist will either perform it in-house or refer to an endodontist.
Myth #4: I’m anxious about root canal therapy, so I’ll just have to tough it out.
Dentists and endodontists often perform root canals under local anesthesia. Still, if your dentist feels you need something stronger to remain relaxed throughout the procedure, they may offer you IV sedation. This type of anesthesia involves receiving medication through an IV line while lying on your back. Once you’re asleep, your dentist will begin working on your teeth without any pain or discomfort.
If you need to undergo any type of dental procedure requiring general anesthesia or IV sedation, discuss all available options with your dentist beforehand so that you know what to expect before undergoing treatment.
Myth #5: My dental insurance will cover the entire cost of the root canal.
Dental insurance typically covers some of the costs. Many people are surprised to learn that dental insurance will not pay for the entire procedure. You might get a discount on your treatment if you have dental insurance, but it’s important to understand exactly how coverage works and what your limits are before undergoing any major dental work.
It’s also important to consider whether your plan covers routine visits and cleanings and preventative dentistry like sealants or fluoride treatments. If so, these preventive measures may help reduce the risk of future problems and lower healthcare costs down the line.
The root of the matter…
Before you give up and think the worst of root canals, take some time to learn more about your options. Your dentist can help you find a solution that works for you and will have you back in action in no time.
“Root Canals Safety – American Association of Endodontists.” .aae.org/specialty/clinical-resources/root-canal-safety/.
“The Truth About Root Canal Pain – Colgate.” .colgate.com/en-ph/oral-health/root-canals/the-truth-about-root-canal-pain-0213.