Myths About Root Canal Treatment
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 procedure, it is the obligation of your health care provider educate you about your condition and inform you of all treatment options.
- Myth #1—Root canal treatment is painful.
- Myth #2—Root canal treatment causes illness.
- Myth #3—A good alternative to root canal treatment is an extraction.
Truth—Root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain, it relieves it.
The perception of root canal treatment being painful is a myth decades old. Utilizing scientifically proven techniques, root canal treatment today can be just as comfortable than having a filling placed. In fact, a recent survey showed 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 is caused your body’s inflammatory response to infection in your tooth. Root canal treatment removes the infected tissue, thereby allowing you tooth and surrounding tissue to heal.
Myth #2 — Root canal treatment causes illness.
Patients searching the Internet for information on root canals may find sites claiming that teeth receiving root canal (endodontic) treatment contribute to the occurrence of illness and disease in the body. This false claim is based on long-debunked and poorly designed research performed nearly a century ago. There is no valid, scientific evidence linking root canal treated teeth and disease elsewhere in the body. Root canal treatment is a safe and effective procedure.
Dr. Richard Rubin during his endodontic residency performed original research that showed no association between root canal disease and coronary artery disease. The results of his study were presented at the 2001 Annual Session of the American Association of Endodontists in New Orleans, LA.
As recently as 2013, research published in JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, found that patients with multiple endodontic treatments had a 45 percent reduced risk of cancer.
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 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 and 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.