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Getting to the ‘Root’ of Root Canal Myths

Posted on January 26, 2017 by Kochevar Endo

There isn’t a health-related procedure or topic in today’s world that doesn’t drag a myth a long with it. Root Canal procedures are no exception. While those of us in the dental field understand how important this procedure is, we can’t stop rumors and misinformation from spreading. Not every myth can be covered here, but we’ll do our best to cover the most concerning.

Myth #1: Root Canals Procedures Cause Pain

The pain of an infected tooth is much more severe than any possible pain during a root canal treatment. Not only is a root canal meant to relieve pain, it’s also not a painful procedure. The incorrect assumption that root canals cause pain began decades ago, but with the use of modern anesthetics and technologies, a root canal treatment isn’t any more painful than a filling. A systematic review of root canal pain found that just 17 percent of patients who had gone through a root canal treatment said it was the most painful dental procedure. While individual cases vary, by in large, a root canal is not a painful procedure.

Myth #2: Root Canals Cause Illness

The idea that root canal treatments cause infection, disease and even cancer stems from the idea that bacteria and viruses left behind at the root canal site will persist and spread around the tooth and to other areas of the body, causing infection and disease. The foundation for this myth is rooted in century-old research done by Dr. Price who, as early as the 1930s, was discredited. The Journal of the American Dental Association reviewed Dr. Price’s work from the 1920s and found that that his research lacked many aspects of modern methods, including absence of proper control groups and the induction of excessive doses of bacteria.

From the American Association of Endodontists:

The truth: There is no valid, scientific evidence linking root canal-treated teeth and disease elsewhere in the body. A root canal is a safe and effective procedure. When a severe infection in a tooth requires endodontic treatment, that treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth.”

While it is widely known bacteria exists in an infected tooth, this does not constitute infection and is not a threat to one’s health. While tooth extraction introduces the possibility of much more bacteria entering the bloodstream, root canal treatments produce far less trauma and, therefore, much less bacteria into the bloodstream.

Myth #3: Tooth Extraction is a Good Root Canal Alternative

Tooth extraction introduces more bacteria into the bloodstream than a root canal treatment. It is, of course, always better to save the natural tooth, rather than opt for full extraction. An implant or false tooth will sometimes force you to avoid certain foods. Keeping your natural tooth allows you to continue to eat the full variety of food necessary to maintaining proper health.

In addition, tooth extraction is often more expensive than  endodontic treatment. When done with great precision, a completely sealed root canal can last a lifetime.

Call an Endodontist

Your general dentist will more often than not refer you to an endodontist, a specialist in tooth infection and treatment. Endodontists have two to three years of additional training entirely focused on root issues and procedures. Their offices also have specialized equipment and tools for more accurate procedures. See all the advantages of seeing an endodontist. Contact our office anytime for more information, to schedule a consultation or for general questions.

Categories: Root Canals

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