There are some misconceptions and myths about root canals. In this article, we review a couple of these myths.
How Painful is A Root Canal?
There’s nothing like the topic of pain to drive mythmaking. And the term root canal is at the top of the list. But are root canal treatments really as painful as the myth suggests?
Not so, the American Association of Endodontists will tell you. In fact, most patients feel very little pain during root canal treatments, since today’s dental practices have advanced far beyond conventional treatments, including for root canal.
But the endodontist is an expert in providing advice on effective pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines such as those typically found on a drugstore shelf. If discomfort persists, patients can be prescribed pain medications to alleviate the discomfort.
Myth – Root Canal Treatment is Painful
Truth – The root canal treatment may not be pleasant, but in reality, root canal treatment does not cause pain, it relieves tooth pain.Today modern methods of anesthetics and contemporary endodontics have made the process no more uncomfortable than having a filling. In fact, those who have received the treatment are six times more likely to describe it as painless than those who have not. The slight discomfort is not nearly as bad as the pain of a toothache.
How pain is controlled
Yet what about the root canal procedure itself. Most patients today report that locally applied anesthesia provides help in preventing major discomfort. Patients are also sometimes on the edge which can result in making the treatment feel far more painful than it is. If necessary, to alleviate this anxiety, a mild sedative can be prescribed. Most patients today report that the root canal treatment is no more painful than receiving a typical filling. And in today’s dental practices, endodontists can often complete the treatment in just a single session.
The bad reputation for the pain that root canal treatments have can be thought of in another way. The root canal treatment actually alleviates pain that has caused the need for the root canal in the first place. A badly damaged tooth suffering from major decay can cause all sorts of pain and complications. The root canal resolves that pain and then serves to prevent the destruction of adjacent bone structures and other teeth that could result. It may also prevent the need for other procedures such as an extraction, an implant, or even a bridge. In other words, the root canal is the best available treatment to save a tooth and help patients avoid far more expensive procedures.
Myth – Root Canal Treated Tooth Cause Illness
Truth – This is a false claim. The claim of root canal treatments causing illness is based on long-debunked and poorly designed research performed by a doctor nearly a century ago. Medical experts didn’t understand the cause of many diseases.
Myth – Extraction is a Good Alternative to a Root Canal.
Truth – Saving your teeth is always the best option. Nothing can completely replace a natural tooth. Artificial teeth can cause you to avoid certain foods or even change the way you speak. Plus, many root canal treated teeth will last for your life. Placing a bridge or implant will usually cost more and take more time, now and in the future.
Advantages of Choosing a Root Canal Treatment:
- Retain proper chewing and biting force
- Assure a natural appearance
- Protect other teeth from excessive wear
There are many causes of a toothache, including tooth decay, injury or dental infection. If you experience tooth pain, check out a few common symptoms, causes for the pain and treatment options you may consider. If you experience any of these, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here for you.
Symptom: Sudden sensitivity to hot or cold beverages and foods.
Possible problem: If this is a discomfort that only lasts a few moments, it may not be a serious issue. There could be minor decay or a loose filling. More significant pain signifies a more major problem.
What to do: Consider using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth and use a soft brush and smooth strokes. Contact us for ongoing pain.
Symptom: Sensitivity to hot or cold foods or beverages after you have dental treatment.
Possible problem: Dental work can make the pulp inside the tooth sensitive.
What to do: Wait a short time (2 to 4 weeks). If the pain continues or gets worse, contact our office.
Symptom: Sharp, sudden pain when you bite on a piece of food.
Possible problem: This can be caused by decay, a loose filling or a crack in the tooth’s surface. There can also be pulp damage.
What to do: Contact our office for an evaluation. We may recommend you see our endodontist for a pulp-related treatment.
Symptom: Ongoing pain, usually lasting for more than 30 seconds, after eating hot or cold foods or beverages.
Possible problem: This likely means the pulp has been damaged by primary decay or severe physical trauma.
What to do: Visit our office to see if we can save the tooth with a root canal
Symptom: Constant pain and pressure, swelling of gums and sensitivity to touching.
Possible problem: The tooth might be abscessed, and there could be an infection in
the surrounding bone and tissue.
What to do: Visit our office for treatment. Take an over-the-counter pain medication until you see the dentist.
Symptom: Dull aching and pressure in the upper teeth and jaw.
Possible problem: Tooth grinding causes this type of pain. The pain of a sinus headache can also be at fault.
What to do: Find out which is the cause of visiting your dentist or general physician.
Minimized discomfort and efficient procedure
When treatment process is done in just a single visit, discomfort is usually minimized. We often can prescribe an antibiotic for aftercare to keep any infection from developing. The first step of minimizing pain simply has to do with taking care of the tooth during the treatment and minimizing trauma to periapical tissue. The tooth is kept dry and carefully sealed to avoid leakage. A good endodontist can make a big difference in how much pain the patient will experience by simply completing the procedure carefully and cleaning all the canals thoroughly.
If pain occurs at home, the patient is encouraged to contact the dental office for advice. While some discomfort is expected, pain that worsens over a few days is a sign of a potential secondary infection, and the endodontist may prescribe an antibiotic to stem those symptoms.
Importantly, root canal treatments today are far more routine and we employ a comprehensive effort centered on pain management. Thanks to the work of researchers, we now can use local anesthesia to provide a minimally or even pain-free treatment, especially for patients who report that a previous root canal was uncomfortable or that they suffered from inflamed pulp in their earlier treatments. With these factors considered, root canal treatments today often can be performed far more effectively.
Don’t delay to avoid complications
It is also important to see the doctor early and not delay. The longer a patient waits, the worse the pain can become. If you have put off seeing your dentist about your inflamed or damaged tooth, be assured we will work with you to provide treatment that is as comfortable as possible.
Remember that root canal treatments save teeth, and your dentist is always available to answer questions on how to ensure actions taken will assist you in maintaining oral health.
So, just as medical science and procedures have advanced throughout the decades, so has the science and practices of dental professionals. Consider that in medicine 100 years or so ago, the practice of bloodletting and the use of poisons to control pain were considered routine. They sometimes resulted in more harm to patients than resolving their medical issues. Like doctors, dentistry moved on from early treatments and now uses proven and effective techniques in anesthesia and micro-instrumentation to treat root canal issues.
The endodontist is a specialist with additional years of education and training in diagnosing pain in the oral cavity and face and can perform procedures to treat tissues in teeth and surrounding areas. Our office’s goal is to treat and relieve pain and resolve the issues by saving the tooth when possible. In many cases, these endodontic procedures can save infected or greatly diseased teeth that might otherwise require extraction.
We use state-of-the-art equipment that is more advanced than the tools found in a general dentist’s practice, and this provides us with greater precision and the ability to visualize exactly what is happening in the affected teeth. Our goal is to make an accurate diagnosis of the problem and to offer treatment options tailored to the specific situation of each patient. Endodontic success rates are quite exceptional when an endodontist performs the procedure and often can be done in less than an hour and within a single office visit.
While the words “root canal” can inspire fear, they ought to provide relief. Having a root canal procedure is often the optimum method to save the tooth. Thanks to the work of skilled endodontists, is harmful bone loss issues that occur after teeth are extracted can be avoided, and costly tooth replacement procedures like dental implants or bridgework may not be necessary.
Root canals and cost
Financing for root canals is available. Insurance covers some of the costs and our office is there to help in creating a payment plan or third-party financing if insurance maximums are reached. Please ask our staff to address your financial situation.
If you have any question or concern, please contact us at 713-322-7474. Omega Dental Specialists is located at 106 West Gray, Houston, TX 77019