Root canal therapy, or a “root canal” for short, is one of the most common treatments in the world of dentistry.
If your tooth becomes infected due to an oral injury or tooth decay, a root canal is used to remove infected material from the inside of your tooth. Then, the tooth is sealed and protected by a crown, to restore it completely.
However, popular culture has made it seem like root canals are very painful and inconvenient. This is not the case, and in this article, we’ll take a look at a few of the most common myths about root canals, and debunk them – once and for all.
1. Root Canals Are Very Painful and Invasive
The process of having a root canal is minimally-invasive, and rarely causes any kind of discomfort. It’s actually quite similar to having a filling placed. Your dentist will numb your tooth, and administer sedation, if you wish, and then clean the area.
Then, damaged and decayed enamel is removed, and a small opening is made in the tooth. Infected material is removed using specialized tools, then the tooth is cleaned, disinfected, and sealed with “gutta percha” and sealed a temporary filling or crown. That’s it. The entire process is minimally-invasive, and the treated tooth will only be tender for a few days, at most.
In fact, a root canal helps relieve the pain and discomfort of a toothache, which is usually much more uncomfortable than root canal therapy.
2. Getting A Root Canal Is Inconvenient And Takes a Long Time
So, root canals aren’t invasive. But aren’t they a complicated, time-consuming procedure? Again, the answer is “no.” The root canal procedure, in most cases, takes about 60-90 minutes. That’s only a bit longer than a standard teeth cleaning. You will have to make another appointment to have a crown placed in your mouth, but this appointment usually only takes 30 minutes to an hour.
In addition, if you have a serious toothache, many dentists will be willing to schedule a same-day or after-hours appointment for you, to help you get the treatment you need on your schedule.
3. It’s Better to Just Extract and Replace an Infected Tooth
This could not be further from the truth. Your goal should always be to preserve your natural teeth. It’s never a good idea to just ignore a toothache, or have your tooth extracted instead of having it treated with a root canal.
If you do, you’ll face a variety of oral health issues. The infection could spread, or your existing teeth may shift toward the now-empty socket, causing bite problems.
Of course, you can get your tooth replaced by a dental bridge, partial denture, or even a dental implant. But this should be your last resort because extracting a tooth and replacing it with a prosthetic is much more expensive than having a root canal.
How much more expensive? The average cost of a root canal is between $700 and $1,100, including the placement of a dental crown. The cost of extracting a tooth and having a dental bridge made, on the other hand, could cost you $3,000 or more. Dental implants can cost even more.
By choosing to treat your infected tooth with a root canal, you could save thousands of dollars in the long run.
4. You Only Need a Root Canal If You Have a Toothache
Toothaches are not the only symptom of a serious tooth infection. You should also look out for signs like increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. Your tooth may also feel more sensitive to pressure when chewing food.
You may also notice issues like swelling in your face and cheeks. If you notice any of these symptoms, see a dentist right away. You may have a serious tooth abscess and need root canal treatment.
Know What’s Fact (And Fiction) About Root Canals
There are quite a few misconceptions about root canals out there, and we hope this guide has been informative and helped you understand the truth about this type of endodontic therapy. If you have more questions or think you need a root canal, contact your dentist right away.