The Facts about Root Canal Treatment

Dispelling the myths….

One thing that most dentists have to put up with in regards to the Internet is the spread of rumours about how painful certain procedures are. These exaggerations have, of course, been around for a long time, but with the rise of the Internet, these rumours spread wide and fast. Probably by far the most often heard of these at our dental practice is about root canal treatment. If everything that you read is to believed, this is the most painful dental procedure that anyone could ever have. So is it true….?

The facts however, are entirely different and the myths that surround root canal treatment are exactly that; myths! Whilst it may have been the case many years ago that somebody could experienced acute pain when having a root canal procedure, we can assure you that with modern technology and the skills of the endodontists at our Westminster dental practice in the heart of London, this most certainly is not the case now. It is highly likely that anyone who has experienced pain during this procedure historically would have had an untreated abscess present. Nowadays, by ensuring that x-rays are taken prior to any treatment, any abscesses will be detected and if found, the procedure will be postponed whilst it is treated with antibiotics.

Once the antibiotics have done their job, the first step in having a root canal procedure is to anaesthetise the area using a local anesthetic. This will ensure that no pain is felt by the patient. The top of the tooth is then removed to reveal the infected inner pulp which contains the nerves and the blood vessels. These are then removed and the interior of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected to prepare the tooth to receive the filling. Once the filling has been placed we usually recommend that a crown is placed on top as, without this, the tooth may be significantly weaker which may cause problems, especially on the rear teeth which may result in breakage of the tooth.

The finished tooth, once the root canal treatment has taken place, will then be a natural tooth but without any sensation as the nerves have been removed. This does mean that no further infection can occur as it is, in effect, a natural but ‘dead’ tooth. It is important though to remember that the tooth and the gums surrounding it do still need to be cleaned and flossed in order to prevent gum disease which may threaten not only that tooth, but also those around it.

By having this procedure done, the natural tooth can be saved and preserved, avoiding the need for extraction and potential replacement using a bridge or a dental implant. However, although the tooth has been saved, it should be noted that because a significant proportion of the natural structure has been removed, it may not be as strong as before and it is perhaps best to avoid biting on very hard foods in order to prevent possible breakage.

Without a doubt, this is a highly effective method of preserving a tooth and without the discomfort and pain that so many people unfortunately believe that it entails.