Have you been recently told by your dentist that you need root canal treatment? And did you cringe at the thought of getting it done? You are not alone.
Fear or anxiety is the first thought that comes to the mind of most people who are told by their dentist that they need root canal treatment. This apprehension is due to misconceptions like root canal treatment is painful and due to which chances are you will avoid getting root canal treatment and think of a rather having your tooth removed.
So read on to know the truth, dispel the myths and empower yourself to make a well-informed decision.
What is root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment has been performed for decades to relieve pain and ultimately save the tooth from getting extracted. Otherwise known as Endodontic therapy, it is a procedure to remove the infection from the internal part of a diseased or damaged tooth.
The pulp is a soft tissue present in the interior of the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues and which if diseased and left untreated will lead to the spread of infection in the surrounding areas, ultimately resulting in the removal of the tooth. Thus root canal therapy removes the pulp, saves teeth and protects them from future infection.
Here are some common myths associated with the treatment:
Myth No1: Root canal treatment is extremely painful.
Pain is usually the greatest fear associated with this treatment. However, it is virtually painless if done by a well trained and experienced dentist. This association of pain with root canal came into existence decades ago when it used to be painful. But the arrival of newer technology, advances in anesthesia and pain management have made it painless, quick and comfortable.
Most patients visit their dentist when they have a severe toothache. Hence the pain that they experience is in reality due to infection. In fact, root canal treatment is done to eliminate this pain.
Anesthesia is administered before the start of the procedure to numb the tooth and its surrounding area and the infected and damaged tissue is removed to alleviate pain.
Myth No 2: It is better to extract a tooth than get root canal treatment as it might fail eventually.
Saving your natural tooth should always be your first choice. Modern technology has increased the effectiveness of root canal treatment and made it highly predictable and successful. After treatment, you will retain your natural tooth for a long time; possibly for your lifetime.
Other options like tooth extraction and replacing it with implant or bridge should be considered only if you are unable to preserve your natural tooth. Your dentist has given you the option of root canal only after careful evaluation; so choosing it will be a wise decision.
Myth no 3: If the tooth is not painful, it does not need root canal therapy.
Not all teeth that require root canal therapy are painful. Teeth whose nerve is already dead will not give you pain, but that does not mean they don’t need a root canal.
Your dentist will perform tests and take X-rays to check if the pulp is damaged and only then recommend treatment. Teeth that are chronically infected don’t pain as their nerve tissue has been dead for a long time. There might be a pimple or a small bump on the gums with draining pus. This drainage prevents any pressure build-up in the interior of the tooth and so you don’t experience pain. But the infected pulp tissue must be cleaned out by root canal treatment or else the infection will spread to the surrounding tissues and bone leading to complications.
Myth no 4: It takes multiple appointments to complete treatment.
There was a time when the therapy took several visits and many hours. But with cutting edge technology and modern instruments it is much more organized and efficient. Most of the root canal therapies can be completed in 2 appointments, some as short as a single visit!
Use of endodontic microscope helps the dentist to see the tiniest details with vision up to 25 times that of the naked eye and allows easy navigation through even the most complex anatomy which leads to better outcomes.
The total time required time depends on the severity of your infection, experience, and training of the treating dentist and the anatomy of your tooth.
Myth no 5: A part or the entire tooth will be removed during the root canal treatment.
In reality, the opposite is true. Root canal treatment is done to preserve your natural tooth. The tooth and its roots are cleaned from inside to remove the damaged pulp tissue which contains nerves and blood supply, it is disinfected, shaped and filled with an inert material.
Myth no 6: Once the root canal is done I don’t have to visit the dentist again.
Since the nerve and blood supply to the tooth is removed during the root canal treatment, the tooth becomes brittle and there are chances that it can get cracked or broken. Besides, if left uncovered there are chances that bacteria can leak inside the canals. To prevent this, it is important to get a crown or a permanent filling on top of the tooth. So you will have to make a follow-up appointment to get the permanent restoration.
Depending upon the complexity of your case either a dentist or root canal specialist called Endodontist will perform your procedure. Endodontists are the dentist who undergoes a minimum of two years of advanced training in root canal procedures. They have the expertise and knowledge of diagnosing and treating tooth pain as well as the use of cutting-edge techniques to relieve your pain quickly.
There are specialized clinics in Mumbai, India that are dedicated to providing root canal treatment in a modern setting using innovative technology at an affordable cost.
Once the treatment is completed you should follow good oral hygiene practices – brush twice a day and floss at least once. Visit your dentist regularly for checkup and cleanings. Avoid chewing on hard and sticky food to protect the tooth. These practices will ensure the long term success of your treatment.
Now that your misconceptions are cleared don’t delay treatment as it can lead to the spread of decay to the root of the tooth making it impossible to salvage. So go ahead with the root canal treatment as a long term investment to restore your oral health.