Root canal therapy is one of the most dreadful words for a dental patient. It is the most feared dental procedure out of all. Root canal treatment has garnered a bad reputation ever since people became aware of root canals and pulpal infection.
However, most of the times, people aren’t aware of the procedural facts. A survey conducted American Association of Endodontic stated that most of the dental patients develop a fear towards root canal treatments based on someone else’s experience.
Root canal treatments are performed to repair an infected tooth without having it extracted. It is a dental procedure which involves removal of the infected pulp and replacing it with a medicinal filling material.
It is the best dental procedure performed to save the integrity of the natural tooth. However, there are many misconceptions about this procedure; for example – it is believed that the process is painful and causes further damage to the tooth.
Root canal treatments are precisely the opposite of these misconceptions. Moreover, postponing the procedure further increases the incidence of pain, cost, and inconvenience.
Patient education is essential to make them understand the benefits of saving a natural tooth with minimal discomfort. Today’s article will highlight some of the common myths about root canal treatment and reveal the truth behind it.
What is root canal treatment?
A root canal is a term used to describe the natural tooth cavity that consists of the pulp chamber and the canals. The pulp is a soft tissue present in the center of the tooth which consists of a network of nerves and blood vessels.
Root canal therapy is a dental procedure which is performed to repair and save an infected or grossly decayed tooth.
During this procedure, the infected pulpal tissue is removed, followed by thorough cleaning of the canals. The final step includes filling and sealing of the canals. (2)
When is root canal treatment required?
Root canal therapy is typically suggested when there is an infection of the tooth involving the pulp. Usually, during pulpal infection, the bacteria progress in breaking down the tooth and the surrounding tissues.
Root canal treatment will be required for any tooth that has the following signs and symptoms –
- Sharp pain in the tooth especially while sleeping
- Presence of an abscess around the infected tooth (2)
- Swelling that may involve the face, neck or head
- Evident bone loss around the tip of the root
- Formation of sinus near the affected tooth with draining pus
What are the myths about root canal treatment?
Lack of information about root canal treatment prevents the patient from making an informed decision concerning the health of their teeth. With all the misconceptions and inaccurate information about root canal treatments, many patients even go to the extent of getting the tooth extracted. (3)
Talk to your dentist and understand the facts about root canal treatments and the benefits associated with it. Knowing the real facts will help you to think clearly about the best outcomes for your dental health.
- Also read: 5 Alternatives to Root Canal Treatment
Keeping this thought in mind, the following are some of the common myths about root canal treatment that needs to rectified –
1. Root canal treatments are painful
Root canal therapy is performed on the tooth that is affected by irreversible conditions involving the pulp. The pulp consists of a network of nerves, which makes it sensitive to pain. The symptoms of pulp infection are painful.
However, root canal treatments are performed to alleviate the pain caused by infection. Moreover, root canal therapy is performed under local anesthesia, which devoid the patient of the pain.
Many people who have undergone root canal treatment admit they did not experience any pain during the procedure. Additionally, they felt relieved after the process was completed.
2. Root canal therapy requires several dental appointments
Root canal treatments can be completed in single or two sittings. The completion of root canal treatments depends on the following factors –
- Extent and severity of the infection
- Accessibility of the canals
Restoration of the tooth after root canal therapy is an essential procedure; however, it is not a part of the root canal therapy. Therefore, excluding the crown replacement procedure, root canal therapy takes one to two appointments to complete. (4)
3. Root canal therapy increases infection and illness
It is believed that the bacterial infection trapped in an endodontically treated spreads the disease to the heart, kidney, or other parts of the body. Recent studies have disapproved these facts and have shown no correlation between root canal therapy and general illness.
However, having poor oral hygiene can increase the risk of bacterial transmission in patients with heart disease.
4. Root canal treatment is a treatment option only when the tooth hurts
Teeth that are dead with chronic pulp infection may not cause tooth pain, but they require root canal treatment to prevent further spread of infection to the adjacent healthy teeth.
Routine oral examinations play an essential role in identifying such teeth. Several tests are performed to check the vitality of the infected tooth such as –
- Temperature testing
- Percussion test
- Electric test using a pulp vitality machine
5. Root canal treatments do not have long-lasting effects
Many patients do not understand the importance of preserving the tooth by the placement of a crown or bridge. They ignore the fact of crown placement after the completion of root canal treatment and come back with a broken or fractured tooth. (5)
It is essential to understand that an endodontically treated tooth does not receive blood supply as the pulp is removed. As a result, the tooth becomes brittle. Several factors play a role in determining the strength of an endodontically treated toothlike –
- The size of the filling used to close the tooth
- Teeth grinding forces
- Eating habits of the patient
Replacement of the tooth structure with a dental crown is essential to maintain the strength and integrity of the tooth. Moreover, it provides comfort and eases to the patient while chewing food or bitting on hard substances.
Take away message
Root canal therapy is one of the most common tooth saving dental procedures. It is usually the line of treatment for irreversible pulp infections.
Root canal treatments are always performed under local anesthesia. It involves removal of the infected pulp, cleaning, and shaping of the root canals followed by filling and sealing of the canals and tooth.
Being an essential dental procedure, root canal therapy is often feared by many dental patients. There are several myths and misconceptions with regards to this dental procedure.
Some of the myths state that root canal therapy is painful; it increases illness; it weakens the teeth and does not have long-lasting effects.
It is essential to understand that all these facts hold no truth. Proper education and awareness of root canal treatments will help the patient to understand its importance in maintaining healthy teeth. Do you fear root canal treatments? Well, contact your dentist to gather all the right information.