The root canal is a commonly dreaded dental procedure. However, this is most likely only because people hold misconceptions about it. The fact is, it is a procedure meant to save a tooth; it only becomes necessary when a tooth becomes diseased or infected in the pulp, the soft tissue layer beneath the hard, outer layer of enamel. The pulp houses the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, and when it is threatened by infection, the tooth is at risk of being lost. To prevent this from happening, the diseased tissue is cleaned out, and the canal is filled again with a biocompatible material to restore the structure and function to the tooth.
Here are some commonly-held myths about root canal treatment, and reasons why it’s not a procedure to be afraid of.
The fact is, a root canal is meant to relieve pain that an infection causes within a tooth. The procedure itself is virtually pain-free because an anesthetic is applied to the area before any work is done. Additionally, advancements in training, equipment, and technology make the treatment much more comfortable for patients than it has been in the past.
A root canal generally takes one to three dental visits, depending on the condition of the tooth. This is still simpler than getting the tooth extracted, which will then require a dental implant and even more dental visits.
The procedure aims to save the tooth. It cleans and disinfects the inside of the tooth, allowing it to heal and return to health.
Root canal procedures actually have about a 95% success rate when performed by an experienced professional, usually an endodontist. The success of the procedure also depends on the patient – with good oral hygiene, a treated tooth can last a lifetime without any further issues or retreatment.
It was once thought that root canals caused illness throughout the body. This myth was debunked long ago, and there is no valid scientific evidence in support of the claim. Because the procedure removes decay from a tooth, a lot of bad bacteria is removed from the mouth, which fights infection.