According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), there are three major misconceptions many people have regarding root canal therapy. Unfortunately, these patients may make decisions about their health care based on this incomplete or inaccurate information. Take a look at these myths and truths behind this important treatment option.
Myth 1: Root canal treatment causes pain.
This commonly held perception predates modern dentistry. Patients who have actually experienced root canal therapy are 6 times more likely to describe the procedure as painless than those who have never had the treatment.
Truth 1: Root canal treatment relieves pain.
In reality, the only pain that is generally associated with root canal therapy is caused by the underlying reason for the treatment – tooth decay or infected or diseased tissue. The root canal treatment removes this damaged tissue from the tooth, relieving the pain in the process.
Myth 2: Root canal treatment causes further illness or infection in the body.
This unfortunate belief stems from a long-discredited report from nearly 100 years ago that still turns up during internet searches. This report by Dr. Weston Price was highly criticized in its own time for the sub-standard research methods he used, and his conclusions were being debunked as early as the 1930s.
Truth 2: There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that suggests root canal treatment may cause other illness or infection in the body.
In fact, root canal therapy has been proven to have a much lower incidence of bacteria entering the blood stream than tooth extraction and causes much less trauma to the patient. Recent research has also found that patients who have had multiple root canal treatments have a 45% lower risk of cancer than patients who have not.
Myth 3: Tooth extraction is always a better option than root canal treatment.
There is no perfect replacement for a natural tooth. Even the best tooth replacement options may leave you needing to avoid certain foods. Additionally, missing teeth can lead to jaw bone resorption over time, adding further complication to oral health care.
Truth 3: Saving natural teeth, when possible, is the best option for overall health.
By saving the natural tooth, patients avoid the need for further, more costly restoration treatment. Root canal treatment has a very high success rate and can often allow the natural tooth to last a lifetime.
Whenever possible, your doctor should make every effort to preserve your natural teeth. If you are advised to have an extraction, ask if root canal treatment is an option. Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to an endodontist if you want a second opinion. Endodontists have at least 2 years of specialized training in tooth preservation, in addition to their dental degree.