7 myths about root canals debunked

Do you think you need a root canal and find that terrifying? Root canals are among the most misunderstood dental procedure because there are many myths surrounding them, often causing unnecessary fear and anxiety. Nonetheless, root canals are a medically safe procedure. It consists of drilling a small hole through your tooth to access its nerve, extracting the nerve tissue and sealing the canals with a special material called gutta percha. Let´s look at some of these myths and try to set your mind at ease.

Myth 1: Root canals are painful.

One of the most pervasive myths is that root canals are excruciatingly painful. This would be true if we did not have the advanced anesthesia techniques that we do in modern day. Today, root canals are no more painful than having a cavity filled. Modern anesthesia and pain management techniques ensure that patients experience minimal discomfort. The procedure itself is designed to relieve pain caused by infected or damaged pulp in the tooth.

Myth 2: Root canals cause other systemic illnesses

Another common misconception is that root canals can lead to illness or disease elsewhere in the body. This myth originated from discredited research in the early 20th century that falsely linked root canals to systemic health issues. Current medical evidence shows no correlation between root canals and conditions like heart disease or arthritis. In fact, root canals remove infection from the mouth, thereby preventing bacteria from spreading to other parts of the body.

Myth 3: Root canals take a long time.

Many patients worry that root canals are lengthy and complicated procedures requiring multiple visits. In our experience, most root canals can be completed in one or two appointments. Advances in dental technology, including digital imaging and advanced instruments, have streamlined the process, making it faster and more efficient.

Myth 4: It is better to extract a damaged tooth,

Some people believe that extracting a tooth is a better option than saving it with a root canal. However, preserving the natural tooth is almost always preferable. A root canal allows you to retain your natural tooth, which maintains proper chewing function, prevents other teeth from shifting, and preserves the natural appearance of your smile. Tooth extraction, on the other hand, can lead to complications such as bone loss and may require more extensive dental work in the future, such as implants or bridges.

Myth 5: Root canals are not a permanent solution.

There is a misconception that root canals are not a permanent solution and that the treated tooth will eventually need to be extracted. While it’s true that no dental procedure has a 100% success rate, root canals are highly effective, with success rates exceeding 95%. In dentistry, a root canal that has lasted 5-10 years without giving any problems is considered successful, but with proper care, a tooth that has undergone a root canal can last a lifetime. Putting a  porcelain crown over the tooth will help protect it over time.

Myth 6: Root canals kill the tooth.

A root canal involves removing the infected or damaged pulp from inside the tooth, which includes nerves and blood vessels. While this does eliminate the tooth’s ability to feel pain, it does not mean that the remaining tissues are dead. The tooth remains intact and functional, nourished by surrounding tissues.

Myth 7: Root canals cause tooth discoloration.

There is a belief that a tooth will turn dark or discolored after a root canal. While it’s possible for a treated tooth to darken over time, this does not always happen. If it does happen, cosmetic solutions like crowns can restore the tooth’s appearance.

In summary, root canals are a safe, effective, and routine procedure aimed at saving natural teeth and preventing further dental issues. Modern dentistry has made the process relatively quick and comfortable, debunking the many myths that have long surrounded this treatment. We hope that by understanding the realities of root canals we can help alleviate fears and encourage individuals to seek the dental care they need without hesitation. At the Costa Rica Dental Team, we have a root canal specialist perform all the root canals at our office. We do this because we believe in bringing the best talent and equipment to even the simplest of procedures. The best part is that this does not mean it is more costly. In here, you can save 50 to 70% as compared to US prices even if we use a specialist.

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