Having been a dentist in Kennewick for nearly 40 years, I’ve seen just about every dental situation you can imagine. I’ve had the pleasure of building beautiful smiles, and sometimes the unfortunate task of removing teeth that were no longer functional. But in all the treatments I have completed, I’ve noticed that root canals are by far one of the most misunderstood. Patients shudder after simply hearing the phrase.
I understand that no one wants to hear that they need a root canal. It’s not a procedure I wouldn’t do unless it’s absolutely necessary. But that’s the thing … sometimes a root canal is necessary and your best shot at keeping your tooth functional for years to come. A good root canal can last the rest of your life. So today, I want to expose 5 root canal myths.
1. Root Canals are not harmful to your health. Nearly 100 years ago, a dentist theorized that root canals and the filling material made people sick, even putting them at a greater risk of cancer. It’s been 100 years since that myth began, and it’s never been proven. There have been countless studies conducted in this myth, and there is no evidence that a root canal will make your sick. The fact is that a root canal can save your tooth.
2. You don’t have to be in pain to need a root canal. Patients who need a root canal can sometimes be in intense pain. This unbearable pain can be caused by an abscessed tooth or infected dental pulp. But here’s the kicker, pain isn’t the only factor. Some patients who need a root canal do not even experience pain. The only true way to determine if you need a root canal is to visit a dentist and have an X-ray. With a more precise look at the tooth, we can better determine the best course of action.
3. Root canal treatment is not painful. There are two myths about root canal pain. People assume the tooth will throb, AND they assume that procedure will be painful. A root canal involves cleaning out the canals in the tooth. We use advanced and modern instruments that make the procedure easier and more comfortable than ever.
4. Root canals are EXTREMELY successful. This is one of the myths about root canals that bother me the most. People believe that root canals are often unsuccessful. Not true. First of all, my office doesn’t suggest any treatment that we’re not confident will work. Secondly, we dentists have spent years perfecting the art of the root canal. Today the success rate of a root canal is about 98 percent. That’s just about the best success rate we could hope for in dentistry — with any procedure. Remember this success rate the next time someone tries to tell you that root canals are the worst thing in dentistry.
5. Tooth extraction is not a good alternative to a root canal. Because a root canal saves the tooth, the only other option would be a tooth extraction. In some cases, a tooth cannot be saved, but if you have a choice between a root canal or extraction, I’d suggest a root canal. You see, extracting a tooth does resolve the problem, but it can create other problems down the road. For instance, one missing tooth can shift the alignment of your teeth. Furthermore, missing teeth are an eyesore! Once your tooth has been treated with a root canal, we’ll restore the tooth with a natural-looking crown.
As I wrote in the beginning of this blog, a root canal isn’t on anyone’s to-do list. But there might come a time when a root canal can save one of your teeth. Remember this list before you prejudge the treatment.
If you’re ready to become one of our patients, or you’d like a consultation, call our office at 509-591-0515.