Common Myths about Root Canals
A tooth is made up of layers – the protective outer layer of enamel, followed by another layer called dentin. Underneath these hard layers is a soft tissue called the pulp. This is where the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue is housed. If it becomes infected (usually due to an untreated cavity that has become more advanced) a root canal will become necessary. In this procedure, the infected or inflamed pulp is removed to prevent it from causing further damage to the tooth. The canal is then refilled with a biocompatible material to restore the tooth’s structure.
A root canal is usually reacted to with some apprehension or anxiety, but this is because many people have the wrong idea about it. Here are some common myths about this restorative treatment.
- A root canal treatment is painful.
Advancements in training, equipment, technology, and anesthesia have made a root canal virtually painless. In fact, a successful root canal treatment will relieve pain, because it removes the inflamed or infected pulp, rather than cause pain.
- Root canal procedures require several dental visits.
Depending on the condition of the tooth, a root canal can be completed in as little as one visit, though as many as three. This is still preferable to having the tooth extracted, which, in most cases, will require further visits to have that tooth replaced.
- A root canal kills the tooth.
A root canal treatment does remove the pulp, which is essential in the development of a tooth, but once the tooth is mature, the pulp is no longer needed. The goal of a root canal is to heal the tooth by cleaning and disinfecting the inside. Once this is done, the tooth should return to health and function just as well as before.
- Root canal procedures are not very successful.
This procedure actually has about a 95% success rate if treated by an endodontist. With good oral hygiene, the treated tooth should be able to last a lifetime without any further intervention.