Root canal. Just two little words, but in combination they’re enough to strike terror into the hearts of the manliest men and even some womanly women who’ve given birth with minimal pain relief. There are so many myths about root canal fillings that when you’re told you need one, you’ll leave the dentist’s office with them all swirling around in your mind, making you panic. Panic no more, because almost everything you’ve heard about root canals is wrong. Read on to be disabused of your erroneous notions and thoroughly reassured…
Occasionally, teeth will die and while they’re no longer painful, they can present a source of infection to the surrounding teeth. Your dentist can perform a couple of simple tests to see if the tooth is dead or not and, rather than remove it, do a root filling. This helps you to keep your own tooth for another few years at least, before moving onto a crown or an implant.
If the tooth is vital but infected, you’ll be in pain anyway. If it’s dead, it won’t hurt, but it could cause very painful problems for the surrounding teeth and tissues down the line. With modern anesthetics and sedation, you won’t feel anything more than you would with a regular filling.
This is the biggest misconception and it’s based on faulty research from nearly a century ago – before antibiotics were in use! The idea that bacteria and “poisons” lurk in the filling, just waiting to wreak havoc is a very persistent one, but with a skilled dentist, modern materials and medication, this risk has pretty much been eliminated. Removing the dead pulp and root will improve your comfort and your oral health, as well as your overall wellbeing. Many people have root canal fillings for 15 years or more with no problems.
Of course, there will always be the rare filling that fails within a couple of years, but this is very rare nowadays. With regular check-ups and good hygiene at home, a root filling could last for many years. Lots of people decide to move onto an implant eventually, but a root filling can delay this process for a decade or so, if not longer.
In some cases, yes. However, if you’re one of these cases, then your dentist will recommend an extraction rather than a root filling. Sometimes there is no alternative, but if any procedure is going to cause discomfort and risk further infection, it’s an extraction. Very often, after an extraction, you’ll go for a bridge or an implant, which means more cost and more time in that dentist’s chair. If you’re offered a root filling, grab it with both hands!
Whole Dental Wellness - June 18, 2019
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