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Root Canal Myths

The term “root canal” has become synonymous with “painful” and “unpleasant”. However, that is not really accurate. With advancements in modern dentistry, a root canal is no more painful than a routine cavity filling or any other basic dental procedure. Along with this myth, there are many others that deserve to be debunked. If you need a root canal, don’t avoid it for any of these common misconceptions.


Myth: Root Canals are Painful.


As with any other dental procedure, local anesthesia is administered to numb the area beforehand so that the patient won’t feel any pain. This myth is likely due to the fact that the main nerve of the tooth is located inside the soft pulp of the tooth and its root. If the area was not numbed first, it would be painful, which is why local anesthesia is used. If for any reason a patient still does not feel comfortable having the procedure done with just a local anesthetic, general anesthesia can be used to put the patient to sleep during the procedure.


Myth: Root Canals Can Make You Sick.


There is no evidence to support this. Somehow it was believed that getting a root canal procedure would cause the patient to be more likely to become ill from the bacteria causing the infection inside of the tooth. This is simply not true. In fact, by removing the infection from the tooth and filling it to prevent any chance of infection in the future, you are less likely to become sick.


Myth: A Root Canal Means Going to the Dentist a Lot.


A root canal can typically be taken care of in as little as 2 appointments. During the first appointment the infected soft pulp is completely removed from the inside of the tooth and root. Then there is a waiting period of a few days to allow the infection to clear up, after which the inside of the tooth and root are filled and the tooth is sealed up. Barring no issues, you’ll go back to visiting the dentist on a normal schedule (only twice a year) following the procedure.


Myth: A Crown Can Cause the Need for a Root Canal.


Getting a crown does not automatically cause you to need a root canal. In fact, the crown may prevent the need for a root canal by helping to solidify the tooth and keep infection from getting into the soft pulp inside the tooth. These two procedures do not have a cause and effect relationship.


Myth: A Root Canal Procedure Removes the Tooth Root.


This one really doesn’t make any sense. The root of a tooth is necessary for it to be held in place securely. It is simply the inside of the tooth root that is removed to preserve the tooth and its root.


Myth: If the Tooth Doesn’t Hurt, it Doesn’t Need a Root Canal.


Often the symptom that alerts a patient to the need for a root canal is extreme tooth pain. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes the inside of the tooth including the nerve is dead. You won’t feel anything, but the tooth will weaken, dry out, and become brittle or loose. You could lose the tooth without realizing there was anything wrong. One of the telltale signs of a dead tooth root is discoloration of the tooth, usually gray or brown.


Myth: Pulling the Tooth is a Fine Alternative.


Some people may think that a root canal is a waste of time and money, and that just pulling the tooth would be better. There are actually quite a few reasons a root canal is a better option. For one, all of your teeth are there for a reason, to help you chew. Each tooth is also a place holder, and pulling one can cause the rest of your teeth to shift out of proper alignment. Finally, when a tooth is pulled or missing, the jaw bone that once held it in place resorbs creating a weak spot in your jaw. Replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant is expensive. Keeping the existing tooth in place is the best case scenario.


Don’t Let These Myths About Root Canals Keep You From Proper Dental Treatment


If your dentist recommends a root canal, don’t avoid it. The procedure can save your tooth and allow you to keep it for the rest of your life. If you have any other questions about having a root canal, ask your dentist to be sure you get accurate answers. 

Call Oakdale Dental Associates today at (413) 536-1782 to schedule a consultation or request an appointment.