Myths About Root Canals

The thought of a root canal may make you fearful or uneasy if you aren’t familiar with the procedure. There are common misconceptions that endodontic treatments such as root canals, cause pain and/or illness and should be avoided at all costs. The exact opposite is true. The pain, inconvenience and cost of avoiding endodontic treatment in favor of tooth extraction or a wait-and-see approach can be easily avoided. The longer you postpone treatment the more you risk the chance to save your tooth. Take the time to read the information on our website to find out what endodontists do to save teeth with minimal time and discomfort. Then address any remaining concerns or questions with your dentist or endodontist.

Put your mind at ease as we dispel three common myths about root canals:

Myth 1: Root canal treatment is painful.

That may have been the case decades ago, but with modern technology and anesthetics, you won’t experience any more pain than if you went to have a cavity filled. The pain from a severe toothache, often caused by damaged tissues in the tooth, can be easily remedied when an endodontist removes the damaged tissue through root canal treatment. In addition, endodontists are experts in pain management, and most cases can be treated quickly and comfortably.

Myth 2: Root canal treatment causes illness.

Information you may find on the Internet or elsewhere, claiming that if you receive a root canal treatment that you’re more likely to become ill or contract a systemic disease in the future simply isn’t true. This false claim was based on long-debunked and poorly designed research conducted nearly a century ago, long before modern medicine understood the actual causes of many diseases. There is no valid, scientific evidence linking root canal treatment to cancer or disease elsewhere in the body. In fact, modern research has shown that patients with multiple endodontic treatments had a 45 percent reduced risk of cancer. (Tezal M, et al. Dental Caries and Head and Neck Cancers. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 139(10):1054-60, Oct. 2013.).

Myth 3: It’s better to pull a tooth than have root canal treatment.

Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is always the best option. Nothing artificial can replace the look or function of a natural tooth so it’s important to always consider root canal treatment as an option. Endodontic treatment has a high success rate and many root canal-treated teeth last a lifetime. Replacing an extracted tooth with a bridge or implant requires more time in treatment and may result in further procedures to neighboring teeth and supporting tissue.

Myth 4: Root Canals Involve Removing the Roots of the Tooth.

When a root canal treatment is performed, the pulp from inside of the tooth is removed. The roots of the tooth are not removed.

Myth 5: If My Tooth Doesn't Hurt, There is No Need for a Root Canal.

While a throbbing toothache typically is a telltale sign of a need for root canal treatment, there are times a tooth can require root canal treatment when there is no pain present. Endodontists are specially trained to test a tooth to see if the pulp has been infected or damaged. If this is the case, a root canal would be necessary to save the tooth. And remember, when it comes to teeth: There is no pain that is normal, so be sure to see an endodontist if you have a toothache. Visit to find one today.

For even more information on root canals, click to visit our Root Canals Explained page that offers a step-by-step explanation of the procedure, benefits and more.

Root Canals Explained

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