Of all the treatments that dentists offer, root canals are by far the most misunderstood. In fact, endodontic therapy is probably plagued by more rumors than any other dental procedure.
How can you separate the fact from fiction? At Eastport Dental, here are some of the most common myths that our patients ask us about (and the truth behind them):
It Hurts to Get a Root Canal
Root canal treatments don’t “hurt” any more than other types of restorative dental procedures. Endodontic therapy is actually designed to relieve painful toothaches. They certainly do not cause more of them.
The reason why some people say that it hurts to get a root canal is because they wait too long to see a dentist for treatment. By the time they make an appointment, the nerve has abscessed and is swollen inside of the tooth itself. This situation makes it extremely difficult for local anesthetic to thoroughly numb the tooth. But if anesthetic can be administered when the swelling is minimal, it can work more effectively. That’s why in some situations antibiotics are prescribed leading up to your root canal appointment.
You Can Take Antibiotics Instead
Let’s say our Mesa dentist prescribes you an antibiotic because of a severe dental abscess. You plan to have the root canal a week later, but the medication has been so helpful that your tooth no longer hurts. In turn, you cancel your endodontic treatment since everything feels fine.
It’s actually only a matter of time before the abscess comes back.
Antibiotics temporarily alleviate bacterial infections in teeth, but they don’t permanently treat them. Your tooth needs the dying tissues cleaned out and for the nerve canal to be sealed off. Otherwise, bacteria will continue seeping into the tooth and swelling will accumulate around the tip of the root.
Prescribing too many antibiotics won’t save your smile. It can actually lead to drug resistance and allow your tooth to erode so much that it becomes non-restorable altogether.
It’s Ok to Wait Until the Tooth Hurts
Dying teeth or those with abscessed nerves don’t always transfer stimuli to your brain the same as healthy teeth do. It’s not uncommon for our Mesa dentist to see people with severe decay and extremely large abscesses who are not in pain whatsoever.
The nerves of teeth are quite unique. Sometimes they’re extremely sensitive because of a small cavity, while they’re completely asymptomatic for more aggressive infections. Pain shouldn’t be the determining factor as to whether or not you schedule a root canal. As the tooth succumbs to the infection, you may find yourself completely out of pain altogether.
It’s Easier to Pull the Tooth Instead
You may be thinking that the easier, faster, and cheaper solution to your smile’s woes is to just have your tooth pulled. But once a tooth is extracted, you have to replace it with something else. Otherwise, everything else tends to shift around and your bite changes (the bone in that space can shrink too.)
When it comes to dentistry, the standard of care is to preserve your natural tooth as long as possible. After all, there’s just nothing as good as having an anatomical tooth. Even though you might have the option to place a dental implant or bridge in that location after the extraction, the overall time and monetary investments will typically wind up being a bit more than if you were to perform endodontic treatment on the tooth from the beginning.
You’ll Ache for Days After Treatment
Once the nerve inside of a tooth is removed, it’s physically impossible for that tooth to exhibit any signs of pain. There are no tissues running through the root or to your major nerves to transfer stimulations to the rest of your body.
In most cases, any lingering soreness after a root canal is because of a) having your mouth open for a longer period of time or b) soreness at the injection site, where local anesthetic was administered. Both are temporary and manageable with over-the-counter pain reliever, lukewarm saltwater rinses, and warm compresses as necessary.
A Root Canal Can Save Your Smile
Mesa endodontic therapy is often the last line of defense when it comes to preserving your compromised tooth. Delaying treatment risks losing the tooth altogether. Today’s advanced technology makes getting a root canal more routine and comfortable than ever before.
If you have an abscessed tooth or chronic toothache, schedule a root canal consultation with Mesa dentist Dr. Vinh Huynh today.