If any of your teeth feel painful or sensitive, you may need a root canal treatment. This is a very common dental procedure that has a high success rate, but it's also one that many people feel anxious about due to misinformation.
Learning the truth behind these five common root canal myths could help to put your mind at ease. Your dentist can provide more details about what the procedure involves and the possible risks and side-effects so you can decide if you're happy to go ahead with the treatment.
Myth 1: Root canal treatment is painful
Many people associate root canal therapy with pain and discomfort, when in fact the treatment can relieve the pain of an infected or damaged tooth. Delaying or avoiding treatment can prolong suffering.
With modern endodontic equipment and techniques, a root canal treatment shouldn't cause any more discomfort than having a filling or other common dental procedure – especially as your dentist will use local anaesthetic to numb pain during the treatment. If you still feel anxiety about the procedure, your dentist may offer more sedation options to help you relax.
Your tooth may feel sensitive for a few days after the treatment, but pain can be managed with over-the-counter or prescription medication. If you still feel pain after a few days, or you have other side-effects, make an appointment to see your dentist.
Myth 2: A treated tooth will still need to be extracted later
Root canal treatment has a high success rate, with over 90 percent of treated teeth still being functional after the procedure. This treatment avoids the need to extract a healthy tooth by removing the infected pulp and sealing the tooth with a crown.
A tooth that's been treated with root canal therapy will usually last as long as other natural teeth, as long as you take good care of it.
Myth 3: You don't need a root canal if you don't feel pain
Painful and sensitive teeth are common symptoms of a tooth infection, but sometimes there are no visible symptoms. If your dentist spots signs of an infection during your oral health assessment, they will usually recommend a root canal to prevent the infection from getting worse or spreading to other teeth.
Myth 4: Root canal therapy causes illness
The link between root canal treatments and illness in other parts of the body is based on invalid and outdated research. There is no valid scientific evidence supporting this claim.
Dentists take steps to prevent infection at every stage of the root canal procedure, making sure all bacteria is removed from the tooth before sealing with a crown or filling. However, there is still a minor risk of re-infection.
Myth 5: Extraction is preferable to root canal treatment
Dentists always prefer to save a healthy tooth if possible, and will recommend a root canal over extraction.
A missing tooth can affect your ability to chew and can cause surrounding teeth to shift and become crooked. If you choose to replace a missing tooth with a dental implant, bridge or denture, this will require additional appointments and expense, as well as an increased risk of complications.
Find out more about root canal treatment in Auckland