Debunking Myths About Root Canal Therapy | Mount Lawley Dental
Debunking Myths About Root Canal Therapy: Facts and Misconceptions
General Dentistry

Debunking Myths About Root Canal Therapy: Facts and Misconceptions

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Root canal therapy is a common dental procedure, but often misunderstood

3 minute read

If you visit the dentist with a painful or sensitive tooth and they recommend a root canal procedure, you might feel nervous, but there’s nothing to fear. With modern dental techniques, instruments, anaesthesia and an experienced practitioner, root canal treatment is a safe procedure that can relieve pain and save an infected tooth from dying.

Unfortunately, myths and misconceptions about root canal therapy persist more than for most dental procedures, and these may discourage some people from considering the treatment, or cause them to delay it until the infection has spread or symptoms get worse. Read this debunking of common root canal myths to separate the fact from the fiction and book an appointment with our experienced dentists to find out more about root canal therapy in Mt Lawley.

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Myth 1: Root canal therapy is painful

The most common worry patients have about root canal therapy is that the treatment will be painful. This may have been true in the past, but modern root canal treatments aren’t usually any more painful than having a filling. It’s the infection or inflammation of the dental pulp inside the tooth that can be extremely painful, and root canal treatment relieves this pain by clearing the infection and replacing the pulp.

Like most dental procedures, root canal therapy is typically performed under local anaesthetic, which numbs the mouth around the tooth being treated so you won’t feel pain during the treatment.

After your treatment, your mouth may feel sore once the anaesthetic wears off, and pain or inflammation may persist for several days. This may be managed using standard over the counter painkillers or other remedies recommended by your dentist.

If you have a low pain threshold, resistance to anaesthesia or anxiety about dental care, ask our dentists in Mt Lawley about other sedation options to help you to feel calm. Call our team on (08) 9227 8777 for more details.


Myth 2: The tooth will need removing anyway

Another common misconception about root canal treatments is that the treated tooth will eventually need to be removed, so treating it is a waste of time. This isn’t the case, as a tooth that’s been successfully treated with root canal therapy (canals properly cleaned and infected tissue removed) can last as long as any other tooth.

Tooth removal is more likely if the infection is ignored or goes unnoticed for too long. At this point, it may be considered too late to save the tooth, and removing it may be the only option. Tooth removal can involve more complications than root canal therapy, however, as well as long-term costs and maintenance if you choose to replace the lost tooth with a dental implant, bridge or denture.


Myth 3: My tooth isn’t painful, so there isn’t a problem

Damaged or infected tooth pulp is often painful, as the dental pulp contains nerves and blood vessels, but not everyone experiences pain in the same way. In some cases, the problem may only be noticed by a dentist during your routine check-up, or if you visit with other symptoms.

One reason why an infection may not cause pain can be if a pimple (known as a fistula) develops close to the tooth. This can prevent the build-up of pressure and resulting pain, and can allow the infection to spread to other tissues.

If you find that persistent tooth pain stops, it could be that the nerves inside the tooth have died, preventing any sensation. Bacteria will continue to spread and damage surrounding tissues and for this reason we recommend seeing your dentist even if you no longer have pain.


Myth 4: Root canal treatment increases health risks

Discolouration may occur when the nerve is removed however, the effect is merely aesthetic and may be addressed with internal tooth bleaching

A long-standing myth about root canal therapy is that it increases a person’s risk of developing illnesses and other health problems later. This false belief is mainly based on an outdated study published 100 years ago in the 1920s that was already widely discredited by the 1950s. There is no valid scientific evidence linking root canal therapy and disease risk, but allowing an infection to go untreated can allow it to spread to other areas of the body over a period of weeks or months, putting your health at risk.

Like any procedure, root canal therapy involves some risks, but these are minimised when the treatment is provided by a qualified and experienced dentist at an accredited clinic. Possible complications can include accidental damage to surrounding nerves, infection of the sinus cavity (for teeth in the upper jaw) and reinfection of the tooth, if it isn’t properly sealed. A treated tooth thats had the nerve removed may discolour over time, but this is only an aesthetic concern that doesn’t affect the tooth’s health or function.


Myth 5: Root canal therapy alone is enough to save a tooth

Root canal therapy involves removing damaged or infected tissue from inside the tooth, cleaning and shaping the cavity, and filling the space with a sterile filling material (known as gutcha percha), but that isn’t the end of the treatment process. Your dentist will discuss your options for covering the treated tooth and restoring its former strength, function and appearance.

In most cases, this involves bonding a custom-made dental crown over the tooth, but sometimes a large filling may be suitable. This covering will help to protect the underlying tooth from further damage and help you continue to eat and speak as normal.


Myth 6: After root canal therapy, the treated tooth can’t feel pain

As the root canal procedure involves removing the sensitive tissues from inside a tooth, the treated tooth will lose some sensitivity to temperature, such as when you eat or drink something hot or cold, but it can still feel pain.

It is normal to feel pain or pressure for 3-5 days after root canal therapy, but any longer than this period is considered abnormal. If you continue to feel pain or have other unexpected symptoms after this time, you should contact your dentist.

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Do you need root canal therapy in Mt Lawley?

If you have a painful or sensitive tooth or other possible signs of a tooth infection, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible. The sooner root canal therapy can be performed, the greater the chance of the bacteria being successfully removed and saving your tooth.

Our dentists at Mount Lawley Dental have extensive experience providing root canal treatments for all ages using the latest techniques and tools to enhance patient safety and comfort. If you want to know more about what’s involved in the procedure, or you’re ready to schedule an appointment, call our friendly team on (08) 9227 8777 or book an appointment online. We welcome patients from all nearby suburbs including Highgate, Inglewood, North Perth and more.

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