Tall tales about endodontic treatment

Numerous misconceptions about endodontic treatment persist despite the facts. A recent survey by the American Association of Endodontists (www.aae.org) found most people base their fear of dentists on someone else's experience, not their own. Here is a sample of some of the more popular myths.

Myth No. 1:
Root Canal Treatment is Painful

All dental treatment was painful in the past. In early to mid-20th century regular dental fillings were done without local anaesthetic or less effective types than those used today. Advancements in dental science and local anaesthetics ensure contemporary root canal treatment is painless. A recent survey by the American Association of Endodontists found patients who have experienced root canal treatment are six times more likely to describe it as 'painless' than patients who have not had root canal treatment. The hype is wrong about endodontic treatment.

A toothache is a symptom of damaged pulp tissue; root canal treatment removes damaged pulp, thereby relieving pain

If you are suffering from pain, your apprehension and fear may heighten your sensitivity to normal stimuli. Oral or IV sedation as well as numerous other techniques and services are available at the Richmond Endodontic Centre to ensure your appointment is not stressful.

The truth is endodontic treatment relieves pain

Myth No. 2:
Root Canal Treatment Causes Illness

Over many years, numerous studies have demonstrated no relationship between the presence of endodontically treated teeth and health problems.

The results are conclusive, people with root canal fillings are no more likely to be ill than people without them

Nevertheless, a small number of dentists and physicians claim teeth that have root canal treatment contribute to the occurrence of illness and disease. They rely on the outdated research of Dr. Weston Price which purported bacteria trapped in teeth during treatment may cause a wide variety of diseases.

To date, no independent research has validated the claims of Dr. Price. His results were the by-product of inadequate sanitation and research techniques that were common in the 1920's. All modern, peer-reviewed studies are unanimously conclusive -teeth with proper endodontic treatment do not cause illness.

Bacteria are present in the mouth and teeth at all times, even in teeth that have never had a filling, cavity, or trauma. The presence of bacteria does not constitute 'infection' and is not necessarily a threat to one's health.

The truth is endodontic treatment is a safe and effective procedure to allow you to keep your teeth and avoid extraction

Myth No. 3:
A Good Alternative to Root Canal Treatment is Extraction (pulling the tooth)

No artificial device can completely replace your natural tooth. Healthy natural teeth allow you to continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods necessary for a balanced diet. Endodontic treatment saves teeth and has a high success rate; these teeth can last a lifetime. Along with an appropriate restoration, it is a cost-effective procedure for saving teeth for normal use and aesthetics. Over the long-term a bridge or an implant is more likely to require further adjunct procedures and higher costs than a retained natural tooth.

Each day, millions of healthy endodontically treated teeth are used by people all over the world. Root canal treatment ensures people can continue to chew efficiently and maintain the natural appearance of their smiles. Keep your teeth and enjoy life.

The truth is once a tooth is extracted it can never be replaced; man-made substitutes are good but not perfect

Myth No. 4:
Completing a Root Canal Requires Several Appointments

Root Canal treatment is most often completed in one or two appointments. More time may be needed if a tooth is particularly technically challenging or a resilient infection is present. These are the exceptions not the rule. Consult with your dentist if you are concerned; a referral to the Richmond Endodontic Centre for a second opinion may be of benefit.

Within a couple of weeks of the completion of treatment, you will need your dentist to place a permanent filling and possibly a crown. This is not an endodontic appointment per se. Nevertheless, it is vital to the success of endodontic treatment.

The truth is typically root canal treatment only requires one or two appointments

Myth No. 5:
Root Canal Treatment is only for Toothaches

This is a common misconception. A pulp can necrose (die) without any obvious signs or symptoms. This is why it is important to have regular dental check-ups and x-rays. A 'shadow' on an x-ray may be an early sign of an infection. A lack of response to hot, cold, or other pulp vitality tests are signs of pulp at risk of infection. If left untreated, an abscess as well as severe pain or swelling can develop. It is prudent to treat these teeth before the development of pain, tenderness, sensitivity, or swelling. Such teeth will not self-correct.

In order to accommodate a new filling or crown an otherwise trouble-free tooth may require root canal treatment. This is a prophylactic or preventive procedure. Your dentist uses clinical judgement when deciding whether to recommend a prophylactic root canal or not. Despite years of experience and sound clinical judgement, no dentist makes the correct decision all the time. If a tooth becomes sore or sensitive after a new filling or crown first ensure the bite is not high. If the bite is not high and the pain is significant then endodontic treatment is necessary.

A periapical x-ray and diagnostic tests prior to a new crown or filling will decrease the chance of such a complication. The endodontists at the Richmond Endodontic Centre are experts in performing such evaluations and often provide a second opinion prior to a new crown or filling.

The truth is a toothache is merely one of many reasons for a tooth to require root canal treatment

Myth No. 6:
Root Canal Treatment is Doomed to Eventually Fail

This misconception is purported by those who have had a root canal treated tooth break. A new crown soon after the completion of treatment will prevent such a scenario.

Endodontic treatment does not make a tooth more brittle or shorten its lifespan per se. However, if endodontic treatment is not followed by a timely filling or crown then the treatment is considered incomplete. After every root canal it is important to have your dentist ensure the tooth is properly restored. It is best if this filling is done no later than four weeks after completing a root canal.

It is true that all teeth cannot be saved. However, if you are told that all root canal treatment fails, get a second opinion. Such a statement is false.

The truth is root canal treatment allows you to preserve a natural tooth and the benefits can last a lifetime

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