Getting The Truth About Root Canals

  • April 5, 2016

The last thing dentists want to do is to cause our patients pain.

Yet, a belief persists that root canal treatments are painful, or worse, somehow more risky than alternative treatments for toothaches.

We understand that getting a root canal procedure is not on the top of anyone’s bucket list, but it’s also not something we are going to recommend unless we know it will help you.

At Forever Young Dentistry in Sterling Heights, MI, we are committed to providing quality dental care with as little pain as possible.

And it is possible to have a root canal without feeling any pain.

Today we are taking a closer look at some myths that persist about root canal treatments, but first we want to explain why you may need this kind of treatment.

Understanding Root Canals

The first thing we need to explain is that root canals are part of every tooth in your mouth. You are likely aware that your tooth is divided into the crown, which is the part you can see in the mirror, and the root, which is the part hidden by your gums.

The roots have small “legs,” and inside each of these is an opening. Those openings are your root canals.

What is inside the root canals? There are three things.

First, you have the soft pulp that is at the center of your tooth. Second, you have blood vessels that carry nutrients to your teeth. Third, you have nerve cells.

Most of the time, the innermost parts of your teeth are protected by the outer layers. If you have tooth decay or gum disease, then bacteria can eat into a tooth. If the infection gets into the root canal or the center of your tooth, then the pulp can become infected.

This infected can cause you to feel the pain of a toothache. It also can make your tooth more sensitive to heat, cold, and sweets.

A root canal procedure will remove the infected pulp along with the blood vessels and nerves. This is done to end your toothache and to reduce your risk of reinfection.

Myth: Pulling Your Tooth Is Better Than A Root Canal Treatment

As a blanket statement, this is completely false. As a conditional statement, this will depend on the specifics of your situation.

Whenever possible, we prefer to save as much of your healthy tooth as we can. This is the reason we use dental bonding to repair teeth with minor chips. This is the reason we recommend fillings or dental crowns if part of your natural crown has been damaged by tooth decay.

And it’s the reason we recommend root canal treatments when the inside of your tooth has become infected. If we can save a majority of your tooth by removing the infection, then that is what we will recommend.

Removing a tooth completely is generally a last resort when no other option will work.

Myth: Root Canal Treatments Are Painful

This is the myth that just doesn’t seem to want to die.

There’s a good chance the reason you may need a root canal treatment is because you have started to experience toothaches due to your infection. We want to stop that pain, not cause more of it.

Indeed, the first step in a root canal treatment is giving you a local anesthetic so you won’t feel anything during the procedure. If you are particularly worried, we can offer sedation dentistry as well. Oral conscious sedation (taking a pill) and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) will allow you to receive a root canal treatment without feeling anything.

When the procedure it over, you will need some time to recover, but the pain of your toothache should go away.

Myth: Root Canal Treatments Make People Sick

This belief goes back to a mistake made by a dentist in the 1920s, and unfortunately, you can still find people promoting this misinformation.

We learned decades ago that bacteria live in our mouths that can cause infections. Root canal procedures are designed to remove these bacteria from teeth that have been infected. Part of this treatment is cleaning and sanitizing the inside of the infected tooth, then filling it with a special material to reduce the risk of reinfection.

The truth is pulling a tooth actually increases the chances that bacteria could get into your bloodstream.

Get The Facts, Get Treated If You Need It

If you still have questions about root canal procedures, please contact our dentist office in Sterling Heights, MI. We will be happy to answer your questions and address any concerns that you may have about root canals.

Call Forever Young Dentistry at 586-698-7135 or fill out our online form to get more information or to schedule an examination if you believe you may need a root canal treatment.