Dr Sanjeev Bhanderi is a dentist offering specialist endodontic treatment. Here, he separates the truth from the lies about root canal treatment
Myth 1: The benefits of root canal therapy are only temporary
A root-filled canal tooth should last a very long time. The key to longevity is actually the final restoration or crown on top of the tooth. A well-made and well-fitting crown, combined with good oral health and regular check-ups and maintenance with your dentist, can ensure that your tooth lasts a lifetime.
Myth 2: Root canals cause illness
If one searched the internet, it is easy to find sites claiming that teeth that receive root canal (endodontic) treatment cause numerous illnesses and diseases in the body. This myth is based on poorly designed research performed one century ago by Dr Weston A Price, at a time before medicine understood the cause of disease and theories that have since found to be flawed.
In the 1920s, Dr Price was responsible for disseminating the results of this study and using them to promote extraction of teeth that, in itself, is one of the most traumatic treatments available. Extracting a tooth itself causes a significantly higher incidence of bacteria entering the bloodstream, whereas a well-performed root canal procedure confines all treatment to inside the root canals, producing much less trauma and a significantly lower incidence of bacteria entering the blood stream.
There is basically no valid scientific evidence supporting Dr Price's research to date.
Not only is root canal treatment safe and effective with the sole aim to eliminate bacteria from the infected roots of teeth it can also improve your oral health and restore good function of damaged teeth.
Myth 3: You only need a root canal if you are experiencing a toothache
Sometimes, the nerves in damaged teeth can die slowly over a long period of time and this, in fact, desensitises it from further insults such as hot/cold stimulus.
Unfortunately, this means that infection can continue to develop quietly inside a tooth and then spread in the surrounding jaw bone until it reaches a point where symptoms will trigger some time later even years after the tooth had died: a 'time-bomb' effect that can kick off at any time.
Dentists, therefore, have several tests, including temperature testing, percussion (tap) testing, and X-rays, that allow us to identify a tooth that has died and needs to receive root canal treatment to prevent acute pain from developing.
This article was updated on the 21st December 2020.