A root canal is often the best way to save a severely damaged tooth, if disease or injury has spread to its roots. Your dentist will thoroughly numb the tooth, and then create a small opening through the crown and into the root chamber. After thoroughly cleaning out damaged tissue and infection, the dentist will fill and seal the canals with a biocompatible product. You will then wear a temporary restoration while a crown is created.
Although this process is highly straightforward, the mere thought of a root canal is enough to strike fear in many people’s hearts. Because of this fear, there are many common misperceptions about root canals. Here is the truth behind the top 3 myths.
1. Root Canals Can Make You Sick
In the 1920s, a dentist named Dr. Weston A. Price released research showing that root canals could cause illness throughout the body. He advocated extraction as a safer option.
By the 1930s, however, Dr. Price’s research was thoroughly debunked. Questionable practices and research methods led to false results. In fact, in 1951, the Journal of the American Dental Association published a special report that reviewed Dr. Price’s work, along with later studies, and concluded that root canal treatment is the safest and most effective choice.
However, the internet age has given new legs to this old myth. A quick Google search will reveal numerous sites claiming that root canals cause illness, but they can all be traced to Dr. Price’s long-debunked flawed research.
The truth is, root canals actually eliminate and seal out bacteria. There will always be naturally-occurring bacteria in the mouth, but a root canal blocks them from reentering the tooth.
Extraction, on the other hand, provides an opening for bacteria to enter. Although a properly-performed extraction carries only minimal risks for infection, a properly-performed root canal eliminates this risk altogether.
2. Root Canals Hurt
At one time, there might have been some truth to this rumor. A root canal is a relatively major procedure, and in days gone by, there could have been some associated pain. Today, however, massive advances in both dental technology and pain management have made root canals quick, easy, and pain free.
In fact, according to the American Association of Endodontists, people who have actually had a root canal are six times more likely to classify the procedure as “painless” than people who have never had one! Most people are back to work within just a day or two after a root canal.
3. It is Better to Pull the Tooth
This myth is related to the illness myth above. Tooth replacement technology has come a long way, and it is true that highly realistic restorations, anchored to the jawbone with biocompatible titanium implants, are readily available.
There are some cases in which the tooth is simply too far gone to be saved. If you are in this situation, modern technology can restore most of your bite strength and chewing ability, and create a beautiful, aesthetic smile.
Yet even the best restoration is no substitute for your own natural tooth. Only your own natural teeth can provide your full bite strength and chewing forces, the most realistic aesthetics, and a fully stabilized root system. Therefore, extraction is never the best solution for a tooth that could be saved with a root canal, unless other factors are in play.
If your dentist recommends extraction, it is worth asking whether the tooth could be saved with a root canal. Budgetary considerations, the condition of your other teeth, your overall health, and the likelihood of the tooth failing in the future all go into a dentist’s decision to extract. In some cases, extraction is the only reasonable choice. In other cases, however, your dentist might be leaning one way or the other, but the final decision is yours.
Root canals have long been the subject of myths and fears. With modern technology, however, they are simply a routine and generally painless procedure that is often the right choice to save a tooth.
Conveniently located in Woodbury, MN, Creekview Dental provides a progressive yet conservative approach to dental care. Our innovative, highly personalized procedures are focused on maintaining tooth structure and providing you with the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve. Call us today at 651-738-8204 to take the first steps on the road to better dental health.