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The Flawed Study That Spawned Root Canal Myths

  • October 1, 2016

The Flawed Study That Spawned Root Canal Myths

These days, it can be difficult to tell fact from fiction. When it comes to root canals, that’s very true. Thankfully, the entire team here at Nashua Family Dentistry knows the truth.

It seems everyone has their own version of truth sometimes. You search online for some facts, and you’ll get many contradictory sites. One says something is true, the other says it’s false. The problem is that some folks rush to judgment or use faulty logic. Plus, what people took for true many years ago (such as smoking is good for you) can now be known to be absolutely not true (such as smoking is incredibly bad for you).

That’s what happened with root canals. Many people think they are painful or even dangerous. Why? Because one flawed study said so.

Why Are Root Canal Treatments Needed?

What is a root canal? It’s a restorative dentistry treatment to save a tooth from infection.

Your mouth is home to harmful bacteria. They thrive on sugar, which is why candy and soda are bad for your teeth. The bacteria can cause cavities when they live on the surface of your teeth. However, they can get inside a tooth. This often happens if a cavity gets too deep and breaks through the enamel and dentin covering the tooth.

Inside your tooth is dental pulp. It’s where the tooth’s nerve endings and blood vessels are found. Once the bacteria gets inside, they infect your dental pulp. Eventually, this infection will kill the tooth and you’ll have to get a dental extraction.

Root canal therapy saves the tooth by removing the infection. Our dentists will use special tools to remove the infection, then seal up the tooth so it’s strong and protected again.

The Flawed Root Canal Study

Back in the 1920s, root canals were a restorative dentistry treatment that dentists used the same way: to remove an infection from inside a tooth. One year, a dentist wrote an article describing a study he had done. According to his research, root canals should never be done again.

The study explained that, because root canals removed a bacterial infection, these treatments exposed your whole body to that infection. Just by removing it, you spread it through the body. Exactly how this happened was vague, but the dentist behind the study was sure root canals caused arthritis and similar medical conditions.

Because no dentist wants to hurt their patients, dentists began to panic. They stopped doing root canals and instead extracted any tooth that was infected. Instead of saving a tooth, the study told dentists to get rid of it.

It wasn’t long before other dentists started to question the logic and research. More and more dentists started to look more closely at the study and discovered several flaws. Dentists began doing root canals again, and by the 1950s, that flawed study was completely discredited.

How Root Canal Therapy Helps You

That’s probably where many root canal myths got started. Root canals do not cause arthritis or even cancer. They do not spread infections around, and they do not normally need to be repeated. Even the idea that root canals are very painful is a myth. Thanks to modern local anesthesia, root canal treatments are no more painful than getting a filling.

In fact, here’s how root canal therapy can help you.

  • Save your tooth: As we said earlier, the key point to a root canal is to save your tooth. If the infection is removed, your tooth will survive and be healthy again.
  • Relieve a toothache: Those infections in your dental pulp can be very painful. After all, that’s where all of your tooth’s nerve endings are found. Root canals can relieve the pain by getting rid of the infection causing the pain.
  • Stop the infection from spreading: If the infection inside your tooth slips into your bloodstream, it can be carried throughout your body. Root canals stop this by getting rid of the infection.

The truth can be hard to figure out. When it comes to root canals, there are many myths. To set the record straight:

Root canals are usually not painful. They can often be done with minimal discomfort.

Root canals do not spread infection. They actually remove it.

Root canals do not cause health problems. By removing the infection, they prevent the infection from spreading.

If you have a chronic toothache or tender gums around one particular tooth, you might have an infection. Call us today at 231-366-4182 for your next appointment to see if a root canal can help you.

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