No one wants to face the prospect of a root canal, but unfortunately they’re a reality when tooth decay reaches the root of a tooth. Many people with toothaches avoid facing reality because of the thought of getting a root canal, but are they really as bad as people say they are?
A lot of the root canal questions we get at our Oregon City dentist office are based on bad rumors that have been floating around for years. Modern root canals are nothing like people make them out to be. In fact, almost every single patient who gets one is thrilled to be rid of the pain they were experiencing before they came in!
What Exactly Is A Root Canal?
When a cavity reaches the root of a tooth it infects the delicate dental pulp that resides there. The pulp is made up of blood vessels and nerves that keep a tooth healthy, and they fall to infection fast. Infected nerves hurt and pose a health risk, so we have to remove them.
A root canal involves going into the center of the tooth to remove all the infected tissue. Once we do that we seal it off with a rubber-like material and cap it with a crown. Teeth can survive indefinitely after a root canal, and all without the pain and infection that was there before.
So what kind of root canal rumors have you heard? Let’s cover some of the most common ones.
Do Root Canals Hurt?
This is by far the most common misconception, and most of it comes from the fact that the patient is in pain when they come in for a root canal. We never perform root canals without anesthesia, so you won’t have to worry about any pain during the procedure.
Recovery is rarely as bad as people make it out to be either. In almost all cases patients report immediate relief from the toothache they were feeling before. You might experience a bit of soreness, but even those cases are uncommon. The bottom line: root canals eliminate pain instead of making it worse.
Can Root Canals Lead To Other Infections?
This myth simply refuses to die, even though it’s around 100 years old. In the early 20th century a dentist by the name of Weston Price applied a medical concept called the focal infection theory to dentistry, and decided that root canals were a temporary solution, eventually requiring extraction to truly cure.
He thought that the tooth itself was the source of infection, and that getting rid of decay wouldn’t stop the problem – only slow it down. In order to get rid of infection, he thought, the tooth had to come out and the infection would go with it.
We now know this is a totally false idea. The reality of infection is that it’s caused by bacteria, and when we remove the bacteria and sterilize the tooth there’s almost no chance of another infection.
Isn’t It Better To Extract The Tooth?
Even if you don’t buy into the focal theory of infection you might still think it’s better to extract an infected tooth, but it isn’t! We never want to pull a tooth that can be saved through a root canal or other treatment. The long term effects on your mouth can be more tooth loss and expensive treatments that can easily be avoided.
When a tooth is removed the bone that supported it shrinks, leading to other teeth shifting around. While a dental implant can stop this bone loss we don’t want to burden you with the need for unnecessary treatments! Root canals are an effective and conservative method of restoring damaged teeth that are simply the best possible option.
A tooth that has been through a root canal is still just as secure in your mouth as a healthy one. We don’t want to damage the delicate balance of your mouth when it can easily be avoided with a tried and true treatment like this.
When To Consider A Root Canal
While we hope we never need to give you a root canal there are certain conditions which mean you’ll probably need one. A severe toothache, an advanced cavity, and even a loose filling can all be reasons why a root canal needs to be performed. An infected tooth won’t always hurt, so keep on top of your oral health with regular appointments in order to avoid needing this last-ditch treatment.
If you’re concerned about the health of a tooth or simply want to schedule an appointment you can call Pioneer Dental Group at 503-388-4691. You can also request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon!