Root canal is a treatment recommended for patients suffering from a decay or trauma that has badly damaged their tooth’s nerve. Located at the centre of every tooth is the pulp, which supplies the nutrients to the tooth. When the pulp, which is also made up of nerves and blood vessels, has been compromised by an infection, due to a severe decay or trauma, it would need to be removed before it worsens to a point that requires the tooth to be extracted.
The dental process of removing the infected pulp, cleaning it and replacing with a substance that prevents future infections is known as the root canal treatment, often referred to simply as root canal. Not to be confusing but the root canal is also the name of the channel that originates from the pulp chamber, spanning the entire tooth from its root to its apex.
Most patients become anxious at the thought of undergoing a root canal treatment. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is the negative perception of the treatment peddled by the mass media. For some reason, the root canal treatment has been unfairly portrayed as a pain-inducing treatment when in actual fact, it helps to relieve the pain that patients go through as a result of the infection.
Common root canal myths
In this article, we hope to dispel some of the common root canal myths that have misinformed many patients, and in some cases, caused unnecessary anxiety:
It’s a painful procedure
Part of this myth dates back to a time when the treatment was administered using old clnical methods. Using minimally invasive techniques, along with the use of general anaesthesia, today’s root canal treatments are no more painful than what you might expect from a regular filling. Also, many people forget to mention that the bulk of the pain that root canal patients experience emanate from the infection of the nerves. Part of what the root canal treatment does is relieve the pain from the infection, not aggravate it, as some misinformed people have suggested.
Multiple appointments are necessary
This is another myth contending the need for multiple dental visits to complete a root canal treatment. In reality, it usually takes one to two dental appointments to do the job. Of course, there are certain situations that require more visits, including an extensive infection, a complex case or the need to refer to a specialist. As with any other dental procedures, it isn’t surprising to find atypical cases that may result in longer than usual treatment times.
The problem must be triggered by pain
The belief that a tooth has to hurt before it can qualify for root canal is simply not true. A dentist is able to employ certain tests to ascertain whether you have a root-level decay that requires the treatment, even when you experience no symptoms of pain whatsoever. Testing methods include percussion testing and the use of a pulp vitality machine.
Finally, it is important to note that root canal therapies are designed to save your tooth so that you will not require any artificial tooth restorations. It is a conservative treatment that aims to preserve your natural tooth as far as is possible.
To find out more about our root canal myths and the dental procedures we offer, book an appointment with Dr Luke Cronin at Quality Dental in North Sydney by calling (02) 9922 1159 or visit www.qualitydental.com.au