When we think of dental infections and hear “your tooth require a root canal treatment”, our minds immediately go to images of drills and acute pain. But the reality is that couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to unlearn and let all the myths surrounding root canal treatment stop you from getting this effective tooth-saving procedure.
Myth 1: It is very painful
Fact: Root canal treatment today is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. In fact, recent data show 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. As an endodontist, the main focus is on patient comfort with pain control. Toothache can be caused by damaged tissues in the tooth due to many reasons. Root canal treatment removes this damaged tissue from the tooth, thereby relieving the pain you feel. Root canal treatment is done to relieve pain.
Myth 2: It causes illness
Fact: It is safe and effective. 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 to remove bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth.
Myth 3: Needed if there is pain
Fact: Root canals are not only designed to save symptomatic teeth, but also to keep non-vital asymptomatic (painless) teeth from further breakdown, discolouration and deeper bone infections lie an abscess/cysts.
Myth 4: Require multiple sessions
Fact: Endodontic treatments, depending on the severity of infection and underlying bone infection, can be completed in as little as one or two appointments. Only in some cases do we need long-term follow-up to be sure the tooth is fine after the procedure and to monitor the bone lesion resolution.
Myth 5: Not successful
Fact: Root canals often allow patients to keep the affected tooth for the rest of their lives but a root canal treated tooth can get re-infected or fractured with catastrophic damage. These can, however be avoided, if the endodontic treatment has been done with adequate care and followed-up with a good sealing restoration and a crown.
Myth 6: It is costly
Fact: Although a root canal treatment is on the expensive side for some, it saves a tooth, a tooth which is a more natural option to help us keep it and use it to maintain normal aesthetics, balance, and functions.
Myth 7: Reduces pain immediately
Fact: Once a root canal treatment is initiated, there will be significant improvement. However, we need to understand that it is an infection and overnight results are unrealistic.
Myth 8: Extract failed tooth
Fact: If a root canal has been done years ago and re-causes pain or infection, the tooth can often be retreated. A retreatment is a procedure of redoing the root canal treatment by re-cleaning the inside of the roots, disinfecting, and bypassing all the areas that are causing the infection.—[email protected]
(Dr Aamina Farook is specialist endodontist at Al Wassan Specialty Dental Centre.)