You’ve probably heard the cliche that Hollywood deaths come in threes. For some reason, around our office, one thing seems to always come in threes. ROOT CANALS! I’m sure just reading those two words makes you cringe and think about Steve Martin in “The Dentist” or some other movie or TV show that makes this procedure seem worse than putting bamboo shoots under your fingernails. Well dentistry has come a long way and I’d like to squash some root canal myths that are out there (by the way, I’m really not sure if leprechauns can have root canals). So here’s my own Root Canal Top 10…
10. Root Canals Hurt
The perception of root canals being painful began decades ago when root canal treatments were painful. Today, with modern technology and better anesthetics, root canal treatments are no more painful than having a filling. Many of our patients fall asleep during the procedure. Knowing what to expect while having a root canal can help ease a lot of anxiety. Trust me, I won’t proceed if a patient is having discomfort during a root canal.
9. Root Canals Require a lot of Visits to the Dentist
With today’s cutting edge technology, most root canals can be performed in one or two office visits.
8. Crowns Cause Teeth to Need Root Canals
Many people believe that having a crown on a tooth means that the tooth will eventually need a root canal. Crowns do not cause the need for root canal therapy. If a crowned tooth does require a root canal, it could be that the tooth has abscessed or that decay has gotten underneath the crown and reached the pulp of the tooth.
7. Root Canals Cause Illness
There is no evidence to support that root canals cause illness. However, there is evidence to support the fact that people who have had root canals are no more at risk for developing illness than people who have never had root canals. It’s a lot more dangerous to not have the root canal and leave the infection/abscess around the tooth.
6. Root Canals Involve Removing the Roots of the Tooth
When the dentist or endodontist performs a root canal treatment, he or she remove the pulp from inside of the tooth. The roots of the tooth are not removed.
5. Pregnant Women Can’t Have Root Canals
Pregnant women can and do have root canals. Having a root canal does require a small x-ray, but the radiation exposure is very minimal and the x-ray is aimed at the mouth, not the abdomen area. If you are pregnant and your dentist needs to give you an x-ray, he will use a lead apron to cover your belly. The anesthetics that dentists use are also safe for pregnant women. Be sure to let your dentist know beforehand if you are pregnant. It’s much more dangerous for the baby to leave infection associated with the tooth that can get into the bloodstream.
4. Even With A Root Canal, The Tooth Will Come Out Eventually
If you have your tooth properly restored, maintain good oral hygiene and visit your dentist for regular checkups, your natural tooth could last for the rest of your life.
3. If the Tooth Doesn’t Hurt, There is no Need for a Root Canal
While a throbbing toothache usually results in the need for root canal treatment, many times a tooth can require root canal treatment when there is no pain present. Dentists and endodontists are specially trained to test a tooth to see if the pulp has been infected or damaged. If this is the case, a root canal would be necessary to save the tooth. Many times a long-standing chronic infection may not cause pain, but it is hard on your body to continually be fighting an infection.
2. Pulling the Tooth is Better than Getting a Root Canal
This would be like cutting your finger off because you have an infected hangnail. Keeping your natural teeth for as long as possible is very important for proper eating and chewing functions. There are several options available for missing teeth, such as dentures, partial dentures, dental implants and fixed dental bridges, however, these alternatives can be much more expensive than saving your tooth with a root canal treatment.
1. After Having a Root Canal, My Tooth is Completely Restored
After having a root canal, it is extremely important to make a follow-up appointment with your dentist to have the tooth permanently restored. After the pulp of the tooth has been removed, the tooth can become very dry and brittle. Having a permanent restoration will help protect your tooth from fracturing.