Root Canals: Separating Fact From Fiction

Root canals are common dental procedures that are often the best way to preserve infected teeth, but they're also some of the most misunderstood procedures. 

If you've been told you need a root canal, knowing the truth about the procedure can help you make the best choice for your dental treatment.

Root Canals and Pain

One of the first things many people associate with root canals is pain. But painful root canal procedures are a thing of the past. With modern dental tools and anesthesia available, most root canal patients say the procedure is as painless as a routine filling.

Many people who need a root canal experience pain prior to the procedure due to the infection inside the tooth. Root canals typically result in significantly reduced pain immediately following the procedure. 

Some patients need painkillers for a short time after treatment, but a tooth successfully treated with a root canal shouldn't be in any pain after the first few days.

Root Canals and Illness

A dentist named Dr. Weston Price released a study in the 1920s that incorrectly claimed root canals could lead to many different illnesses, including heart disease. This is where the myth that root canals can cause other illnesses comes from.

Dr. Price's research was thoroughly debunked and the Journal of the American Dental Association released its position that root canals are the best treatment for severely damaged or decayed teeth in 1951.

Root canals can actually help prevent other serious illnesses since severely infected teeth can lead to an infection in the bloodstream that can damage organs and increase the risk of other diseases.

Root Canals and Crowns

During a root canal, a dentist or endodontist will make a small hole to enter the tooth and remove the damaged or diseased pulp inside and clean out the inner tooth. 

This process prevents the infection or decay from getting worse, but it doesn't protect the tooth from cracking or breaking due to its weakened state. For this reason, dentists usually suggest a crown placement over the affected tooth after a root canal.

Sometimes, root canals performed on teeth near the front of the mouth don't need to end with a crown because the teeth aren't put under the pressure of the molars. Teeth that don't need a crown after a root canal are filled like a typical cavity after they're cleaned out.

Discuss your questions and concerns with your dentist if you're unsure whether a root canal is the best treatment for your dental issue.

For more information on root canals, contact a professional near you.