Among the many dental procedures performed each year by dental professionals, few experience the many misconceptions and myths surrounding the root canal. Many dental patients have a poor understanding of what root canals are, how they are performed, and what to expect in terms of pain or discomfort during and after the procedure. In this article, we will discuss some of the concerns patients have about these crucial dental procedures, dispelling myths and providing new understanding of root canals.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal, properly termed “endodontic therapy” is a common dental procedure designed to save a tooth from infection in the pulp of the tooth structure. Root canals are often performed on teeth that have developed cracks from trauma as well – the procedure is done to prevent the possibility of more severe damage from decay. The dental practitioner performs the root canal by removing the infected tissues using specialized tools, then sealing the remaining tooth to protect it against further invasion of infectious microbes. In simple terms, the tooth is “hollowed out” and a filling or crown is then placed over the hollow portion of the tooth.
Dentists are trained in this therapeutic treatment method as part of their dental education, and most dental professionals have completed many such procedures during their careers.
Myths about Root Canals
There a number of myths concerning root canals. Many of them stem from fear about the procedure and a poor understanding of how and why these dental treatments are performed. Here are some of the most common myths:
Myth #1: Root canals hurt – in decades past, patients undergoing root canals may have experienced significant discomfort. Those days are in the past, however; advances in treatment methods and anesthetic medications means that these procedures are done without pain or lingering discomfort.
Myth #2: It is better to remove a tooth than to undergo a root canal – actually, the reverse is true. Dentists always prefer to save patients’ natural teeth whenever possible. Root canals are a viable option for teeth that have experienced decay or trauma but can still be saved. Tooth extractions are considered a last resort if less-aggressive treatment options aren’t available.
Myth #3: Root canals take a long time to complete – In the past, root canals sometimes required many hours of uncomfortable work, causing severe discomfort to the patient. Today, although root canals are complex procedures, most can be completed in a single pain-free visit to the dentist. More widespread infections or troublesome teeth may require a second treatment to complete.
Benefits of Root Canals
As mentioned earlier, dental professionals prefer to save the natural teeth when possible. In situations where the infection or trauma to the tooth is not extensive enough to force an extraction, root canals are a therapeutic choice. These procedures are cost-effective as well; they are generally less expensive than a tooth extraction and the fitment of a bridge or dental implant to replace the lost tooth. Speak with your family dentist about root canal procedures to see if this treatment is right for your specific oral health needs.