If you have had a dental abscess occur recently and are recovering, you may have some concerns about the next stage in your treatment. Depending on the condition of the tooth that the abscess was underneath, there are typically two choices available for your dental team to consider. The first is an extraction if the tooth is extremely decayed or cannot be repaired and the latter is a root canal.
And, for some bizarre reason, most patients are more comfortable with having an entire tooth extracted than undertaking a root canal! It is believed by many dental teams that this is because of the myths and misinformation available via the internet about endodontic procedures. It is worth noting that root canals have existed in dentistry for over 100 years and in that time, they have saved thousands of smiles, let alone thousands of lives.
So, without further ado, here are some of the most concerning mistruths that you may have read about root canals and the truth behind each one of them.
The tooth dies
When your dentist Sydney performs a root canal, the tooth will usually have part of the pulp removed or the entire pulp depending on the extent of the infection. So, in that sense, yes, the tooth will technically die. However, it will still be used provided that the surgery goes well. This is because once the hole is drilled into the root and the infected material is removed, a substance known as gutta-percha is used to fill the drill site and is then topped with a filling or crown, re-strengthening the tooth to its previous level. So, while the tooth is technically partially dead, it is still able to be used and will stay in place.
The infection comes back
It is exceedingly unlikely that after you have had a root canal the initial infection will come back. However, if you do not maintain the tooth post-surgery, then there may be secondary complications which may lead to the root canal becoming damaged.
When your dental team is cleaning the infected area, they will also be using antiseptic cleaners to remove every single part of the infection, so the tooth will be completely cleaned, minimising the chance of recurrence.
It is a stop-gap until the tooth is removed
A root canal is designed to last the rest of your life, so it is not simply a stop-gap until the tooth is removed. As mentioned earlier, if you do not maintain the health of the tooth, then it may need to be extracted at a later date due to decay or damage.
The tooth turns black
This goes in line with the myth that the tooth dies.
When you have had a root canal, the tooth does not turn black. If you were to leave a rotten tooth for long enough, it would turn black by itself simply due to the extent of the decay. A root canal is also a partial aesthetic procedure, which enables a previously damaged tooth to become restored. Once the process is over, the tooth that you have had the root canal performed on will look no different than any of the others.
An extraction is better
Your dental team will want to save as many of your teeth as they can when possible, and if it comes to a crunch, an extraction can be used but only if the tooth is beyond repair. Root canals also offer an aesthetic benefit over extractions, especially if it is one of the teeth at the front of your mouth, and is considered the better choice by almost every dental team for this point alone.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.