Myths About Root Canals and Root Canal Pain
There are many misconceptions surrounding root canal (endodontic) treatment and whether patients experience root canal pain. The American Association of Endodontists wants you to have accurate information. As always, when considering any medical procedure, you should get as much information as you can about all of your options. Your dentist or endodontist can answer many of your questions, and if you still have concerns, it is often wise to seek a second opinion.
Myth #1 Root canal treatment is painful.
Truth: Root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain; it relieves it.
The perception of root canals being painful began decades ago. With modern technology and anesthetics, root canal treatment today is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. In fact, a recent survey revealed that patients who have experienced root canal treatment are six times more likely to describe it as “painless” than patients who have not had root canal treatment.
Most patients see their dentist or endodontist when they have a severe toothache. The toothache can be caused by damaged tissues in the tooth. Root canal treatment removes this damaged tissue from the tooth, thereby relieving the pain you feel.
Depending on the degree of inflammation or infection, there may be some post-operative discomfort that your endodontist will often manage with prescribed or over-the-counter medication.
Myth #2 Root canal treatment causes illness.
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.
Myth #3 Extraction (pulling the tooth) is A good alternative to root canal treatment
Truth: Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is the very best option.
Nothing can completely replace your natural tooth. An artificial tooth can sometimes cause you to avoid certain foods. Keeping your own teeth is important so that you can continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods necessary to maintain the proper nutrient balance in your diet. If your dentist recommends extraction, ask whether root canal treatment is an option.
Endodontic treatment, along with an appropriate restoration, is a cost-effective way to treat teeth with damaged pulp and is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of a bridge or an implant.
Endodontic treatment also has a very high success rate. Many root canal-treated teeth last a lifetime.
Placement of a bridge or an implant will require significantly more time in treatment and may result in further procedures to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues.
Millions of healthy endodontically treated teeth serve patients all over the world years after treatment. Those healthy teeth are helping patients chew efficiently, maintain the natural appearance of their smiles, and enhance their enjoyment of life. Through endodontic treatment, endodontists and dentists worldwide enable patients to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.