If asked to describe root canal therapy to someone who had never heard of it, how would you portray it? Would you describe a safe, effective, and often-necessary procedure designed to save infected teeth? Or would your narrative sound more like a frightened retelling of a traumatic dental experience? How you describe something reflects your understanding of it, and for many people, the understanding of root canal therapy can be clouded by secondhand-myths and long-debunked research.
#1—“I’ve heard that it hurts.”
Before the advent of anesthesia, nearly everything hurt, and the myth about root canal treatment causing discomfort likely originated before local anesthesia was a routine part of dental treatment. Before the procedure begins, Dr. Stewart will numb the tooth and surrounding tissues with a local anesthetic. After the infected tissues inside your tooth are removed, and the rest of your tooth is restored, the pain you felt before treatment will finally dissipate.
#2—“I’ve heard you can get sick from root canal treatment.”
In the 1920s, when most mechanisms behind dental health were not yet understood, Dr. Weston A. Price postulated that endodontic treatment, or root canal therapy, led to diseases in the body. Despite Dr. Price’s theories being thoroughly debunked by more modern research in the 1950s, this belief is still widely spread. The truth, though, is that removing a tooth’s infected pulp, which is connected to roots that extend into the jawbone, helps stop the spread of bacterial infection. If you grow sick or feverish, it may be because an abscess has formed on the tooth, or on the jawbone surrounding it.
#3—“I’ve heard that it’s better just to extract the tooth.”
Because he believed that endodontics caused illness, Dr. Price heavily advocated tooth extraction as an alternative. Today, many patients still think extraction would be better, since it typically costs less up front. When you extract a tooth, the bacteria in your mouth have a greater chance of entering your bloodstream while the tissues heal. To preserve the integrity of the rest of your teeth and your jawbone, you’ll eventually have to replace the extracted tooth, preferably sooner rather than later. However, if you hesitate too long, then a tooth extraction may be the only option left by the time you seek treatment.
About Your Livonia Restorative Dentist:
James Steward, DDS, and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (734) 425-4400.