MISCONCEPTIONS REGARDING ROOT CANAL THERAPY
- Tooth extraction is a better option than root canal therapy.
When patients find the prospect of root canal therapy intimidating, they might feel that extraction is a better option. This is simply not the case. Whenever possible, preserving the natural tooth is the ideal choice. No replacement tooth can compare to natural teeth in terms of functionality. Furthermore, in addition to requiring more time in the treatment chair, replacement options like bridges and dental implants are typically more expensive than root canal therapy.
- Root canals are severely painful.
This is perhaps the most widely circulated myth concerning root canal therapy—and the number one reason why fearful patients try to avoid the treatment at all costs. Root canal treatment is virtually pain free. Root canal treatment in fact relives pain as it removes the pulp which is the source of pain. Root canals aren’t what they used to be few decades ago. Advancements in training, equipment, technology and anesthesia make modern root canal treatment painless.
- If I’m not in pain, I don’t need a root canal.
For many patients, root canal therapy is preceded by a severe toothache. However, pain isn’t always present in patients requiring root canal treatment. Sometimes, the nerve in the tooth dies, so the patient no longer feels pain or discomfort. Treatment is still required, though, because if left untreated, the dead tooth can become infected. Simply put: while pain is often present in teeth requiring root canal therapy, it’s not a reliable indicator of teeth needing treatment. So, how is a dead tooth detected? Typically, a dead or dying tooth is discovered during a routine check-up at the dentist. Then, the dentist might use a confirmation test—like temperature testing or percussion testing—to confirm the tooth has indeed died.
- Root canals are just a temporary fix.
Another common misconception related to root canal therapy is that it’s just a temporary solution that will require further treatment down the road. As long as the tooth and surrounding gums are kept healthy with good oral hygiene, the natural tooth can last life time without any further treatment or therapy. In fact, when the crown—which is the final restoration in root canal therapy—is well-made and good oral hygiene is practiced by the patient, the preserved tooth can last indefinitely.
- After I get the root canal, I won’t have to go back to the dentist for a while
Once you have received root canal therapy, you will need to make follow-up appointments to have a permanent filling or crown put on the tooth. The temporary filling that is placed after the pulp has been removed will protect the root from infection for only a short time. A permanent filling or crown must be placed to ensure that bacteria don’t leak into the canal.