7 Myths And Realities About Root Canals

  • April 12, 2017

Root canals are a great way to end a toothache and save an infected tooth. But there are a lot of myths out there about root canals, so here are some of the more common myths and the realities for each.

Myth: Root canals are very painful.

Reality: Root canals are no more painful than getting a cavity filled.

Because an infected tooth can be very painful, many people believe any treatment for that tooth will likewise be very painful. Thankfully, this is untrue. A root canal treatment has a lot in common with filling in a cavity, such as removing the decayed material and replacing it with a safe, inert material. Because of that, getting a root canal is about the same as getting a cavity filled in terms of discomfort. And with our local anesthetic and Dr. Ardelean’s skill, many patients have no pain at all.

Myth: Root canals cause illness and even disease.

Reality: One debunked study 90 years ago does not mean anything.

Back in the 1920s, a dentist wondered if removing infected pulp from a tooth had any bad side effects. He wrote a study claiming a connection between root canals and getting illnesses or even diseases. However, there are a few things you should know. First, a lot has changed in the past 90 years since the study was published. Second, we’re talking about a single study. But most importantly, multiple studies have since been done showing there is zero connection. Getting a root canal is more than just safe; it removes a bad infection from your body. That’s a good thing.

Myth: Extracting the tooth is better than a root canal.

Reality: Why remove when you can save? And what are you going to replace it with?

One myth we hear occasionally is that a tooth extraction is preferable to getting a root canal. No one is quite sure why, of course, just that removing the tooth is better. This is not just untrue — it makes no sense. A root canal will get rid of the infection that causing the problem with a tooth, making it safe and painless again. And since it’s virtually painless and doesn’t cause illness, why wouldn’t you at least try saving the tooth? Besides, any tooth extraction leaves behind an unsightly and unhealthy gap in your smile. While a dental bridge or dental implant can do wonders to fill that gap, why not leave the original tooth in the first place?

Myth: Root canals are only for when you have a bad toothache.

Reality: Not all infections hurt, and sometimes the pain can come and go.

The reason an infected tooth hurts is because the pulp inside the tooth (the stuff getting infected) is home to the tooth’s nerve endings. The infection can trigger the nerves there. But every person is different, and for some people, the pain can disappear for long periods of time. For others, there isn’t even any pain, or if there is, it’s so mild that it’s easily overlooked. While a bad toothache is a definite sign that something is going wrong in there, a lack of pain doesn’t automatically mean it’s all good.

Myth: Root canals don’t last.

Reality: Normally they do not need to be done again.

The whole point of a root canal is to remove the infected pulp. Once removed, Dr. Ardelean seals up the tooth with a dental crown. While there are a very few rare cases when the infection returns, a skilled dentist like Dr. Ardelean can almost always get rid of all of the infection the first time around. That means your root canal should never need to be done again.

Myth: Root canals leave a tooth sensitive to heat & cold.

Reality: The tooth will be no more or less sensitive than before.

Maybe it’s because a root canal goes inside of a tooth, but some people insist that a tooth becomes more sensitive to heat and cold after getting a root canal. That might be true for some patients immediately after the treatment because they just had a dental treatment done. But teeth that have had root canals done are able to withstand hot and cold drinks or foods just as well as any of your other teeth.

Myth: The tooth is weak after a root canal.

Reality: A filling material helps the tooth retain its strength.

The pulp fills up the inside of the tooth pretty tightly. When Dr. Ardelean removes a small amount that is infected, that leaves behind a small empty space. One myth we’ve heard about root canals is this means the tooth is now weak and easily damaged. If there’s empty space underneath the enamel, that makes the enamel weaker, right? No. First of all, your enamel is incredible durable. Anything that would fracture a tooth will likely do so regardless of whether that tooth had a root canal or not. But that space is not left empty. We use a special material called gutta-percha to fill in the space left behind by the infected and now-removed pulp. That means your tooth will be as strong as it was before the root canal—just without all that bacteria and pain. On top of that, we’ll place a filling or (more likely) a crown for maximum protection and strength.

Root canals are straightforward treatments that can end your toothache and save your tooth. If you have any questions about how root canals at our Sterling Heights, MI dental office can help you, or if you are ready to make your next appointment, call us today at 586-739-1111.