Root Canal Treatments: Get Familiar With the Facts

Some facts about Root canals

What kind of thoughts come to mind when you hear the term "Root Canal"?

If you've never experienced the procedure for yourself, then maybe you've gained some helpful insight from a friend who has? Or, perhaps, you've heard an exaggerated horror story from a co-worker who is against the idea altogether. Whatever the case may be, it's true that many people believe the root canal treatment to be an unpleasant experience, when this is not actually the case.

Root canal procedures are performed to treat an infected or dead tooth root by removing the diseased pulp and filling the root canal system with a special filling material. Patients are lucky to be able to save their tooth with this treatment if they wish, and can avoid unnecessary and troubling tooth extraction!

So, what exactly is involved when a patient receives a root canal treatment?

After receiving a local anethesthetic, a rubber dam is placed around the tooth being treated. The endodontist will then create an opening in the tooth to gain access to the root or nerve of the tooth. The endodontist then enlarges and cleans the root canal system by removing the diseased pulp. The canal is then filled with a paste sealer along with a material known as gutta percha. Finally, the tooth is capped off with a crown to prevent cracking or splitting, and to generally strengthen the tooth.

After familiarizing yourself with the facts do you think you could answer these questions correctly? Test your root canal smarts with this 7 question quiz below!

Quiz: Let's get to the root of these myths!

Questions:

  1. Root canal treatments are painful. Myth or Fact?
  2. Pain from a root canal procedure is always immediately resolved. Myth or Fact?
  3. Root canal procedures aren't effective. Myth or Fact?
  4. Teeth will most likely need a crown after treatment. Myth or Fact?
  5. Root canal treatments take a long time. Myth or Fact?
  6. Failure of a root canal treatment should result in tooth extraction. Myth or Fact?
  7. Root canal treatments are costly. Myth or Fact?

Answers:

  1. Myth. Many people believe that root canal treatments are painful, but this is not the case. A root canal is performed to eliminate pain – definitely not to cause it! With the use of modern anesthesia administered by a professional, the procedure can be performed with no pain experienced by the patient.
  2. Myth. Following a root canal treatment, a patient will usually feel a dramatic improvement. However, it isn't uncommon for patients to feel sensitivity after the procedure due to inflammation, or to experience moderate pain while chewing. Thankfully, this can be easily resolved with the use of anti inflammatory pain killers like Tylenol, Advil or Motrin. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to help with any discomfort the patient may feel after their procedure.
  3. Myth. Root canals have very high success rates, with around 85% of treatment results lasting a lifetime! Root canal treatments are very effective in that they can successfully remove infected, damaged or dead pulp which in turn prevents further damage from occurring. The procedure does not kill the tooth, either, as some people tend to believe… but rather saves it.
  4. Fact. A crown will "seal the deal", providing strength and support to the tooth once it has been cleaned out and filled. Without a dental crown or cap to finalize the procedure, the risk of fracture is increased due to the force put on the tooth from normal everyday use. The crown is tooth coloured and will easily blend in with the natural appearance of your teeth.
  5. Myth. The average treatment will usually take about one or two hours, but will rarely take longer than this. The duration of the treatment is dependent on the patient's individual condition. In rare cases involving complication or infection, the root canal treatment may require more than one visit to complete.
  6. Myth. If there are any complications with a root canal procedure that may arise in the future, the tooth can usually be retreated successfully without requiring extraction. A retreatment procedure often involves the simple cleaning and disinfecting of the canals.
  7. Fact. Root canal treatments can be pricey. Factors like how many canals your treated tooth contains, and whether it's a first or second treatment will have an impact on the price. However, root canal treatments are truly worth their cost because of how effective they are in treating your pain and saving your tooth!

So, how'd you do?!

A general dentist can perform some root canal procedures, but when the case is complex and requires specialized expertise, the patient is referred to an endodontist. Endodontists have extensive training and experience in this field with the average endodontist performing 25 root canal treatments per week!

Root canals aren't really as scary as you may have once thought! We hope you've learned how to tell apart the facts from the fibs when it comes to this commonly feared procedure.