A trip to the dentist's office is not always something you look forward to. Many people have been diagnosed with extreme anxiety on the onset of such a visit. Whether the problem is psychological or not, you need to gather courage to avoid future heartache courtesy of dental and oral health decline.Anxiety happens to the best of us and a recent root canal treatment led me to ask several questions about the procedure, general practices , implications, facts and myths.
What is root canal treatment?
Pulp found in root canals can be infected as a result of severe tooth decay. Pulp is basically what keeps the tooth alive because it is constituted by nerves as well as blood vessels. When infection is evident the recommended treatment will be endodontics commonly known asRoot Canal Treatment. It is the removal of the pulp and replacement of a substance that will ward away future re-infections. Because of cutting edge technology in dental equipment and practices, the procedure will not leave teeth darkened unlike in the past.
The procedure will therefore see the tooth preserved for cosmetic reasons. The alternative is to have the tooth extracted but this should only be considered when no other option is forthcoming.
Benefits of the procedure will include not having the tooth removed as well as prevention of further infection and problems with the tooth.
However, after all is done, a dentist will recommend crowning the tooth to reinforce it. A tooth without a root canal will be weaker than healthy teeth and for this reason, crowns will be good options. According to Dr. Wambugu of the PCEA Kikuyu Hospital Dental Clinic in Kenya, a crown can preserve a tooth for a life time.
There are several root canal myths to be dispelled in society as follows;
• A root canal is painful. This common myth has its roots from ancient days where the procedure was done using non-advanced methods unlike today. This has been highlighted by the American Association of Endodontists. The administration of general anesthesia will numb the area and the procedure will be painless; it was for me.
• Another common myth is that all root canals must be done in several appointments. This is not the case because the procedure can be completed in one or two appointments. However, there are several factors that will dictate the number of appointments including;
a) Need for referral
b) Tough root canal
c) Extent of infection
Let your dentist recommend the number of appointments after having considered your case.
• Another common myth is that a root canal treatment can cause illness such as arthritis, heart and kidney disease. Research has shown this NOT to be the case. This myth has sprouted from research done almost 100 years ago by Dr. Weston Price. In his research of 1910 to 1930, Dr. Price claimed that illness can emanate from the procedure due to infections. His claims have been refuted by modern research because there is no medical evidence to prove the same.
• Another common myth is that a tooth has to hurt to qualify for root canal. Dentists can discover teeth that are dead and recommend the treatment however painless. Therefore, screening to check the status of the tooth by the doctor is advised. Tests that are employed to check dead teeth include;
a) Percussion testing
b) Use of a pulp vitality machine
c) Percussion testing
• Finally, some people believe that benefits of a root canal treatment do not last. This is owing to consequent breaking of teeth after treatment. According to veteran dental experts, this is not the treatment failure but rather the failure in restoration or construction of tooth. Breakage mainly happens to those who fail to get crowns. Therefore, the benefits can last long.