Misconceptions About Root Canals Abound Among Patients

Dentistry Today


Patients dread root canals. But how many of their fears are based on fact, and how many are based on fiction? DentaVox recently surveyed 5,562 patients from around the world about their attitudes about root canal treatment to gauge the accuracy of their perceptions.

First, 87% of respondents correctly recognized that non-treated tooth decay may lead to root canal infections. Also, half of respondents believe that root canal treatment is preferable to extracting the ailing tooth.

Experts note, however, that some serious inflammations are too risky and difficult for root canal treatment, and extractions would be recommended instead. Yet DentaVox does note that dentists usually try to preserve the tooth whenever possible.

Next, 34% of respondents said that root canal treatment “kills” the tooth. DentaVox notes, though, that the treatment cleans the inside of the tooth to help it heal.

Most respondents additionally recognized that dentists need to take X-ray images to diagnose internal infections, but a third did not. DentaVox then encourages people to carefully choose dental professionals who work with proven diagnostic methods.

Meanwhile, 78% of respondents believe that root canal treatment requires several visits. The condition of the tooth determines the number of needed visits, though, as more severe infections may require more appointments and additional time for monitoring results.

A third of respondents also believe that a tooth that has undergone root canal treatment is destined to be extracted later. Experts disagree, though, and as long as the tooth is properly cleaned, restored, and cared for via good at-home hygiene, it could last for life.

Most respondents, 79%, recognize that pain and sensitivity are some of the indications for pulp inflammation, though these aren’t the only symptoms to look out for. DentaVox noted bad breath, unpleasant taste, and tooth discoloration as additional signs.

More than half of the respondents believe that dentists remove the roots of the tooth during treatment, though that is not the case. Removing the roots would mean the loss of the tooth. Root canals, of course, clean the infection and fill the root canals.

Dental crowns do not cause the need for root canal treatment, even though 45% of respondents think so. However, root canal infections may need to be treated before the crown is placed, depending on whether or not the pulp is infected.

Finally, 50% of respondents mistakenly believe that pregnant women should avoid root canal treatment. Experts agree that root canal procedures are no risk for pregnant women or their baby, even if an X-ray image is needed.

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