So You Need A Root Canal: 4 Common Myths Exposed

Time for a root canal treatment? This procedure involves your dentist removing infected pulp inside your tooth and then sealing the space to prevent further problems or infection. Although root canals are serious procedures, they're usually not as bad as most people think they are.

Myth 1: Root Canals Cause Terrible Pain

One of the most common myths about root canals is that they are very painful. While older methods did often cause pain during and after the procedure, modern root canal methods aren't nearly as painful. Your dentist will inject a local anesthetic to numb your tooth and the surrounding tissues. Many dentists offer further sedation if requested. Having a root canal feels very similar to having a regular cavity filled, and most people don't experience any significant pain, after the local anesthetic wears off.

Myth 2: It's Better to Have a Tooth Pulled Than to Have a Root Canal

While extraction is a potential treatment option for a damaged tooth, it's better to preserve your natural teeth, if at all possible. Some people think they will have to get their teeth pulled in the future, anyway, so it's better to skip the root canal and go straight for extraction. This isn't true in most cases, however. Root canals have a high success rate and a properly placed crown can last a lifetime.

Myth 3: Having a Root Canal Can Cause Diseases

One of the strangest root canal myths is that the procedure can cause diseases, including cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. This myth is based on research conducted by a dentist named Weston Price in the 1920s. Price's theory was that teeth that have had a root canal still contain toxins that could cause disease. However, his research methods were not well-controlled. No peer-reviewed, controlled studies have been able to duplicate Price's results. People who have root canals are not at a higher risk for any diseases, due to having undergone the procedure.

Myth 4: Root Canals Are Only Necessary for People Who Are Having Tooth Pain

Some root canals are performed on patients who complain of pain in the affected tooth. Pain isn't the only indicator you may need a root canal, though. In many cases, a small tunnel, called a fistula, forms in the mouth, near a damaged tooth. The fistula helps pus drain away from an infected tooth, preventing it from building up in the tooth and causing pain and pressure. It's important to see your dentist if you notice anything that looks like a pimple in your mouth. These pimple-like blemishes are usually fistulas. Diseased or broken teeth still need to be treated with a root canal to prevent further infection and damage, even if they aren't causing pain.

Visit your dentist at least twice a year, for regular checkups. Regular dental visits can help prevent and identify issues that could lead to extensive treatment, like a root canal.