Five Root Canal Myths Debunked Posted on March 10, 2016

If your general dentist or endodontist has told you that you will need a root canal (a procedure that is also called root canal therapy), you may be worried. That’s because root canals suffer from poor public relations due to past practices that have improved so much, people tell me getting a root canal is easier than getting their teeth cleaned!

People who have never had a root canal before, or people who last had one 30 or more years ago, often think that they’re headed for a pretty scary experience. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Root Canals: What’s True and What’s Not

Let me share some root canal myths with you and tell you why they’re not true.

  • It’s painful. A root canal should NOT be painful. That’s because your endodontist is a dental specialist who knows what kind of anesthetic you should be receiving based on the examination of the affected tooth. You’ll receive several shots of anesthetic in your gums that will completely numb your nerves in and around your tooth. The local anesthesia techniques and delivery devices have improved a great deal, so even that won’t be uncomfortable. Your procedure will begin, but you won’t feel any pain.
  • The root is taken from the tooth. A root canal doesn’t remove the roots of your teeth. Instead, it removes diseased pulp—the substance that is inside of your canals—which is then filled with a permanent material that resists infection. Your roots remain, since they help anchor your teeth within your gums.
  • You’ll still lose your tooth. People have told me, “I’m not getting a root canal. Why do that when I’m sure to lose the tooth anyway?” A root canal doesn’t mean that your tooth will eventually be lost. In fact, it’s the opposite—this procedure is designed to save your tooth. Instead of having a tooth pulled, and enduring all the subsequent problems, your tooth will have a crown placed on top of it after the root canal, and you’ll be able to chew on it once again. I’ve heard some patients say they’d rather not have to worry about a troublesome tooth, but losing a tooth can affect your speech, your bite pattern, and cause other teeth surrounding the pulled tooth to begin to drift into that now-vacant space.
  • I don’t want my tooth to look black. Usually, I hear this from patients who have known someone who had a root canal decades ago, when the filling would oxidize and turn the tooth dark. Modern materials and techniques have made that a thing of the past. Once your crown is placed over your tooth following the procedure, no one will be able to tell the difference.
  • My tooth will turn dry and brittle. Study after study has shown that the moisture content is the same when you compare a tooth that’s had a root canal and a tooth that hasn’t.

Root canals serve an important purpose: they fix teeth that have become infected or abscessed, which saves the tooth and allows your bite to remain the same. Modern root canals are painless and streamlined, too, so you have nothing to worry about. Call Dr. Semashko’s office at Endodontics in Cranberry to schedule an appointment. We accept patients from all over the Pittsburgh area, including the North Hills, South Hills, and Beaver and Butler counties.