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Dispelling Myths About Root Canals Dentists in Puerto Rico

Dispelling Myths About Root Canals

By Gabriel Fuentes-Arroyo, DMD

“I'd rather have a root canal than (something I really don't want to do)!” It's a common cliché. It's also a statement that doesn't accurately reflect modern root canal treatment.

Root canals' stress-inducing reputation took hold several decades ago, when root canal treatment really was painful. Today, its reputation remains unchanged, even though the procedure itself has changed. A survey conducted by the American Association of Endodontists showed that patients who've had a root canal performed by an endodontist are six times more likely to describe it as “painless” than those people who have not had root canal treatment.

"More than half the patients referred to our offices come to us in pain, and a big part of what we do is get people out of pain," said Sandra Madison, D.D.S., M.S., former president of the AAE. "Endodontists are extensively trained to diagnose and treat oral pain, and we have expertise in performing dental procedures in a way that eases patients' fears and helps them avoid pain before, during and after a procedure."

A root canal saves a tooth by removing the pulp—the soft inner tissue containing nerves and blood vessels—that's been damaged, usually by deep decay. The endodontist cleans, fills and seals the canals, and the tooth is then restored with a permanent filling or other restoration. Nearly 16 million teeth are saved with root canal procedures each year.

In addition to the bad reputation root canals suffer regarding pain, there are other myths associated with them that, if corrected, might ease the fear that the procedure needlessly inspires in patients.

A second myth is that a good alternative to root canal treatment is extraction (pulling the tooth).
The reality is that saving your natural teeth, when possible, is your best option. In a recent AAE survey, 76 percent of participants said that they would prefer a root canal to tooth extraction. Artificial teeth can limit your ability to chew certain foods necessary to maintaining a balanced
diet. Not only will a root canal save your ability to enjoy all the foods you love, but it will save you money. Endodontic treatment, followed by the appropriate restoration, is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of a bridge or implant, the only alternatives to root canals.

Even better, root canals have a very high success rate, with many teeth lasting a lifetime. Placement of a bridge or an implant generally requires significantly more time in treatment

and may result in further procedures to adjacent teeth and supporting tissue.

The truth is that for people suffering from certain kinds of tooth pain, a root canal is usually a blessing, not a curse.

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