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What Is a Root Canal?

Posted on July 27, 2015 | in Dental Care | by

Root Canal Myths & Truths

In case you missed our last installment of enthralling root canal news in this post, let’s answer that question immediately.

A root canal is a dental procedure to remove the infected tooth pulp when it gets infected due to a cavity or trauma.

A root canal is a procedure done to save the damaged or dead pulp in the root canal of the tooth. (Source: Academy of General Dentistry)

By cleaning out the diseased pulp and reshaping the canal itself, your dentist removes the infection & bacteria that could be causing pain then fills the canal with what is call gutta percha…which you can learn more than you ever possibly wanted to know about in this slideshow.

This then enables you to keep your once discolored or infected – and sometimes painful – tooth by preparing it for a dental crown, or cap that most often completes the root canal treatment.

3 of the Most Common Root Canal Myths

It’s no wonder that when most of us hear the term root canal, we quake with fear. But fear comes from unfamiliarity and not knowing.

Most fears & concerns come from not understanding or believing the wrong information, so to set the root canal record straight we’re going to address the three most common (according to whom, we have no idea) root canal myths & misconceptions.

1. Root Canals Hurt

Myth: Root canal treatment actually relieves the pain, believe it or not.

You know what hurts more than a root canal?

Not getting the necessary treatment your dentist recommends – then paying more money later when a more serious oral health issue develops because you chose to believe the most common root canal myth!

By not having root canal treatment when it’s needed, you only cause further decay & deeper infection requiring more treatment, at an increased cost when things REALLY get painful.

Takeaway: Root canals are not painful…root canals relieve the pain.


2. Why Get a Root Canal When You Can Just Pull the Tooth?

Myth: Extracting your tooth is always the very last treatment option, for so many reasons.

Missing a tooth (or teeth) can result in alignment problems, dry socket, and you could actually begin to lose jawbone.

Beyond that when you remove a tooth, you’re going to have to put either a denture, bridge, or dental implant in it’s place to alleviate those (and other) dental health concerns.

After root canal treatment your tooth will continue living even after the infected dental pulp is removed. Then to ensure your tooth’s long-term health your dentist will most likely place a dental crown over it for protection & aesthetic value.

Takeaway: Root Canals SAVE teeth.

3. Root Canal? Who Needs ‘Em

Myth: That’s like saying, “The dentist, who needs ’em…

If your tooth is infected, root canal treatment is definitely necessary for your long-term oral health. What you choose to delay today over misguided fear, alternative self-diagnosis, or good ‘ol fashioned blockheadedness, will only continue to result in more pain & expense.

When your tooth is infected this means that bacteria has invaded, the cavity creeps are entrenched and looking to occupy more your dental real estate.

The dental pulp in your tooth houses nerves and blood vessels, and if infected cannot heal on its own. (Source: Dental Smilemakers)

This infection will only worsen with time, possibly leading to an abscess or even the spread of infection throughout your mouth, and illness that spreads throughout your body.

Remember, oral health IS overall health!

Takeaway: Root canal treatment removes infection, then seals and protects your tooth from future cavity creep invasion.

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+Chris Barnard is Managing Editor of, a patient-centric Social Dental Network blog dedicated to enabling the digital dental health conversation - and the eradication of the cavity creeps.
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