Common Root Canal Concerns All Patients Have

Female patient lying in char holding jaw before root canal treatment

Patients who are about to undergo a root canal can understandably have many concerns. It is always recommended that a patient become as well informed as possible regarding what to expect and to contact a dentist with any questions he or she may have. It is also advised that a patient should obtain a second opinion if any concerns remain. However, quite a few misconceptions regarding root canals remain. This article aims to debunk some of the more common ones that cause unnecessary worry.

Root Canal Basics

A root canal involves removing the tissue in the center of the tooth, also known as the pulp. The pulp will typically need to be removed if it becomes either diseased or damaged in some way. Left untreated, diseased tissue could lead to an extremely serious infection -- resulting in the destruction of nearby bones. After the pulp is taken out, the space that remains is cleaned and filled. Typically, a crown is placed on the tooth in order to restore appearance, shape and strength.

The instruments used to perform root canals have advanced substantially in recent years. Many dentists in the past would simply pull out teeth with damaged pulps, but now these teeth can be saved.

Common Myths

While there are obviously several legitimate concerns that patients have in the days leading up to a root canal, there are many others that, again, are untrue and cause people an unnecessary amount of stress.

For instance, most people believe that the procedure itself is painful. In reality, a root canal relieves pain. Thanks to modern advances, most of the time a root canal is no more painful than having a filling put in. The pain that people experience is typically associated with the problem that leads to the root canal -- not the procedure itself.

Another common misconception is that a root canal can lead to an illness. While you will see a great deal of information on the Internet claiming that root canals make people sick, the fact is that information is based on research nearly 100 years old and was discredited decades ago.

The truth is root canals are safe and effective. There is no valid evidence supporting the assertion that the procedure can lead to an illness elsewhere in a patient’s body. The purpose of a root canal is to remove infected pulp preventing another infection from occurring.

Surprisingly, some people still believe that tooth extraction is a superior alternative to a root canal. Again, the scientific facts state otherwise. It is much more preferable to preserve a patient’s natural tooth.   

What to Expect

A patient who has a root canal can expect a successful procedure resulting in relief from pain and a tooth that will very likely last a lifetime. While the person’s tooth will likely be sensitive or even tender for several days, that discomfort can be substantially reduced by simply taking ibuprofen or aspirin.

Hopefully this article has alleviated some concerns, but patients should still speak with their dental professionals to make sure all their questions are answered.

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