Dispelling Two Common Myths About Root Canal Procedures

When it comes to dental procedures, root canals are often the most dreaded of all for many patients. Root canal procedures are commonly characterized as painful ordeals that could last for hours on end. However, the reality behind root canals is usually much different than what's commonly portrayed in the media. While there are plenty of myths surrounding root canal treatment, the following focuses on the two most prevalent myths.

Root Canals Can Cause Great Pain and Distress

One of the most common myths surrounding root canal treatment is that it's one of the most painful treatment options in dentistry. It's a myth that's so prevalent that it regularly pops up in TV shows, movies and other popular media. The fear of undergoing potentially painful treatment prevents some patients from going through with the procedure, driving them towards extractions and other options that might not be as effective.

In reality, root canal treatments are designed to be painless affairs that help alleviate pre-existing tooth pain while saving your tooth. The actual root canal is normally carried out under anesthetic, with local anesthetics applied directly to and around the tooth and gum area to be worked on. Those with severe anxiety over the procedure can also opt for nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") to help calm them down.

Besides, the tooth pain you're likely experiencing isn't caused by the root canal procedure at all. Instead, it's often caused by the infected pulp and/or exposed nerves within the tooth. Since root canal treatments get rid of the infected pulp and nerves, you'll begin to feel relief shortly after the procedure's done.

Root Canals Can Lead to Illness

Another big myth surrounding root canal treatments is that undergoing one places you at risk of contracting a number of dangerous diseases and chronic ailments, including kidney disease and heart disease. This is myth is based on the belief that a root-canaled tooth could easily become an incubator for harmful bacteria. It's thought by many root canal opponents that such toxic bacteria can enter the bloodstream via the gums, leading to systemic disease years after the root canal took place.

However, there are many reasons why this disturbing myth is actually false:

  • In spite of the rumors suggesting a connection between root canal treatment and chronic illnesses, there's no solid, scientific evidence available that backs up that assertion. The "focal infection theory" championed by Dr. Weston Price over a century ago was largely discredited in the 1950s and has yet to be scientifically verified.
  • The presence of bacteria in the teeth and mouth does not necessarily indicate a dangerous infection that could lead to chronic illness. The vast majority of these bacteria actually serve beneficial and relatively benign purposes. Those that are linked to systemic diseases are usually taken care of by your body's immune system.
  • Tooth extractions, the commonly touted alternative to root canal treatment, actually allow more bacteria to enter the bloodstream due to its far more traumatic nature. Root canal procedures, on the other hand, cause far less trauma while providing a lower incidence of bacteria entering the bloodstream.

A dentist, such as those at Family Dental Center TriCities, PC, will take great pains to prevent bacteria from forming within the new cavity created within the tooth. During the procedure, your dentist will not only fill the cavity with antibiotic medicines to prevent bacterial growth, but the cavity will also be filled and sealed so that no other bacteria can get inside.

By learning the true facts behind the myths surrounding root canal treatment, you can make an infomed decision towards improving your dental health. The last thing you should do is let a myth stand in the way of a healthy and beautiful smile.