Root Canal Procedure Facts and Myths

When patients hear that they need to have a root canal, most will shudder with fear. This procedure has always been associated with pain, illness and many other false rumors. These misconceptions are forcing patients to choose options such as tooth extraction rather than having a simple root canal. We want you to have the right information so if you need the procedure in the future, you can go into it knowing the facts.

Also known as an endodontic procedure, root canals are performed by removing the pulp of the tooth that has become inflamed, infected or dead. The pulp is a soft substance that is in the center of the tooth; it consists of nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. We use this procedure to save a tooth that is badly decayed and would otherwise be extracted. The most common causes of pulp damage that would require a root canal are:

  • Deep Cavity – Tooth decay extends deep into the tooth and reaches the pulp, causing it to become infected with bacteria.
  • Fracture – When the fracture extends deep into the tooth and reaches the pulp, it often causes an infection.
  • Trauma – If your tooth is hit with great force, the nerve can be severed at the end of the root and eventually die.

Most of the myths regarding root canals date back decades. Science has come a long way since the 1700’s (when root canals were first performed). Today, dental advances have made root canal procedures about as common as receiving a filling or a crown.

Myths –

  • Root canal procedures cause pain – Not true! Root canal procedures actually relieve pain. The perception that root canals cause pain may have been true many decades ago, but thanks to advances in modern dental technology, these procedures have become common practice and cause little or no discomfort.
  • A root canal procedure will “kill” my tooth – False! The point of this procedure is to clean and disinfect the inside of your tooth so it can heal, not die. The nerves and blood vessels cause pain when something is wrong with the tooth, so by cleaning and disinfecting the pulp, the pain disappears.
  • I should just get my tooth removed, it’s easier – Wrong! You always want to save your natural teeth whenever possible. An artificial tooth is a viable option, but in the end, it’s much faster and less painful to undergo a root canal procedure.