You’ve probably heard people tell jokes comparing root canals to some of the worst experiences in life, and perhaps that has made you a little nervous about the prospect of needing a root canal at some point. Before you get all worked up about how bad it might be, here are some common myths (and the truth) about this type of dental treatment.
Myth: Root canals are painful and should be avoided if possible.
There may have been a time when root canals were painful, but advances in dental techniques today have made them a very routine procedure that has a lot more benefits than drawbacks. During your root canal procedure you will get anesthetics that numb the tooth and surrounding area so the dentist can safely and painlessly remove decay. Most people report pain levels that are roughly equivalent to getting a filling, and feel much better after the procedure because their tooth pain is gone.
Avoiding a root canal when you need one could actually cause a lot more pain, in addition to more costly dental treatments if your tooth gets infected and decayed to the point it cannot be saved.
Myth: I should just have my tooth pulled instead of getting a root canal.
This is a common misconception, and while there are some situations where you will need to get your tooth pulled, if you can get a root canal and spare your natural tooth that is usually the best choice. Natural teeth allow you to chew, speak, and swallow properly. They also keep other teeth around them in alignment and strengthen your jawbone. Losing a natural tooth can have adverse effects on your mouth and the surrounding teeth that will require more dental work in the future to help you avoid infection, tooth misalignment, bite problems, and more.
Myth: Root canals take a long time.
For most patients a root canal can be done in a single visit, although there are some situations where inflammation or infection could require two separate visits. Once the dentist cleans out the decay inside your tooth, they seal off the tooth to protect against future decay. Your dentist may recommend some additional cosmetic restoration at a future appointment to restore the look and function of your tooth, so talk to them about what to expect.
Myth: Root canals kill the tooth.
Actually the opposite is true, root canals are aimed at preserving your natural tooth. These procedures clean out decay on the inside of your tooth (infected or inflamed “pulp” that is inside the roots of your teeth below the gumline), disinfect the area, then fill it in to avoid future decay. They spare the rest of your tooth, maintaining the roots that connect to your jawbone and the top of your tooth so it can heal and you won’t lose the tooth.
These are very successful procedures for most patients, and often the best way to avoid a lot of expensive dental work or the pain of future infections and tooth loss. If you think you may need a root canal, call our office today to schedule an appointment at Young Family Dental.