You may have heard a few stories about root canals, and these stories may leave you fearing such a procedure. Just the mere mention of this term is enough to send shivers up and down the spine of someone who is told by their dentist that they need one. Why is this particular procedure scary? Should you be scared of a root canal? To help you find out whether it is reasonable for you to fear this dental procedure, let us weed out fact from fiction. Here are some myths and truths about root canals:

MYTH: A root canal is one of the most painful dental procedures around.

FACT: In the past, this may have been true, but recent dental advancements, as well as the development of better anesthesia, has made root canals no more painful than simple dental procedures like having a tooth filled. The pain that people fear from this procedure is actually brought about by the fact that pain is already there. The reason for the root canal is to actually help get rid of the pain.

MYTH: After a root canal, you can expect the pain to go away immediately.

FACT: Some people expect instantaneous relief from the pain after this procedure, which is rather unrealistic. You can expect the pain to reduce substantially however, and this downgraded pain can last from a few days to a few weeks. You can expect the tooth to be rather sensitive however, and you will also find it hard to chew for a few days too. This can be remedied with the help of OTC (over the counter) pain relievers, as well as food that do not need too much chewing.

MYTH: A root canal is actually a procedure that kills your tooth.

FACT: Root canals are not designed to kill an infected tooth, but rather to save it by removing diseased pulp inside your tooth along with the bacteria that is found with it. The root is then prepared for the Gutta-percha filling, which seals off the tooth from bacteria, and the cavity filled to further protect the tooth from a recurrence of the infection. This procedure essentially saves the tooth.

MYTH: An extraction is better than a root canal.

FACT: While an extraction is cheaper than a root canal, it is not considered better since most dentists believe that saving your tooth is better than extracting it then replacing it with an implant. A successful root canal can actually make a restored tooth last a lifetime.

MYTH: Root canals require numerous visits to the dentist.

FACT: This usually depends on the severity of the problem. The number of visits that people need to make in order to get the procedure done is actually only between one and two, with each visit lasting one to three hours. Some people count the consultations and follow-up check-ups as part of the procedure, which they technically are not.

MYTH: Root canals are not necessary for dead teeth.

FACT: Even though a tooth may be considered dead due to the fact that the nerve inside the tooth no longer receives any blood supply, it still is possible for bacteria to thrive in such a tooth, which can then infect surrounding teeth, bones, and tissues. A root canal is performed to prevent such a thing from happening.

MYTH: You will only need a root canal when your teeth hurt.

FACT: Pain does not need to be a factor all the time when it comes to a root canal. Some teeth need this procedure even when pain is not present, as in the case of a dead tooth. Your dentist may surprise you with a recommendation for a root canal after a routine check-up if they find that you actually have a dead tooth that needs to be treated.