About 15 million root canals are performed each year in the United States, helping men and women of all ages avoid extractions and maintain healthy, natural smiles. But even though root canals play an important role in good oral health, they still suffer from a lot of bad press — and a lot of common misconceptions.
At Wedgewood Dental, experienced dentist Linda K. Westmoreland, DDS, uses the most advanced root canal techniques to help patients at our offices in Rolla and Salem, Missouri, enjoy optimal oral health at every age.
Some of the myths surrounding root canals are so scary that they may actually keep people from getting the care they need. If you think you might need a root canal, here’s the truth about what you can expect.
Myth No. 1: Root canal therapy is really painful
Today’s root canal treatments use special techniques and active pain management to help patients stay comfortable throughout treatment. Dr. Westmoreland is skilled in tailoring pain management options to each patient, including local anesthetic and oral sedation.
Not only can a root canal be surprisingly pain-free, but getting a root canal is one of the most important things you can do to end existing tooth pain. Most people are in a lot of pain prior to their root canal due to deep decay and infection. A root canal procedure eliminates the problem, alleviates the pain, and preserves the tooth.
Myth No. 2: Tooth extraction is better than a root canal
Tooth loss often triggers a domino effect: Once one tooth is lost, the neighboring teeth lean into the gap, causing their roots to weaken. Eventually, that movement can increase the risk that those teeth will fall out as well — and so on and so on.
What’s more, even if you replace a missing tooth with a bridge or dentures, the jawbone in that area can thin and weaken, increasing the risk of additional tooth loss. And of course, there’s the additional cost and care routine associated with dentures and bridges.
Having a root canal avoids the problems associated with tooth loss. Plus, when you retain your natural tooth, you also maintain your normal bite balance. And you can continue to care for your treated tooth just as you care for the rest of your natural teeth.
Myth No. 3: Root canals weaken teeth
A tooth that’s badly decayed or infected is already weakened. However, removing the damaged interior portion of your tooth during a root canal helps save the tooth and prevents it from falling out. Once the central pulp portion of the tooth is removed and the tooth repaired, it’s covered by a hard, protective crown.
Crowning a tooth after a root canal adds another layer of protection so your tooth stays strong. Plus, the materials of some crowns can be tinted to match the surrounding teeth, so your treated tooth looks healthy, sound, and beautiful.
Myth No. 4: Root canals cause disease
This myth is based on a discredited report, published about a hundred years ago, claiming that root canal treatment led to serious diseases. It’s simply not — and never was — true.
In fact, having a root canal can prevent deeper, more serious infections in your teeth and jaws. State-of-the-art infection control practices also help ensure a safe procedure and healthy outcome.
Do you need a root canal?
Nobody wants to lose a tooth, but if you’re putting off getting dental care, permanent tooth loss could be in your future. Don’t ignore your teeth.
To learn more about root canals and our other state-of-the-art treatments that can help you preserve your healthy smile, call the office convenient to you, or schedule an appointment online today.