Myths that root canal therapy (RCT) is dangerous have existed for more than a hundred years. With the help of social media today, these notions based on poorly conducted research in the 1920s are still actively circulating. These unscientific blog posts cling to the idea that RCT leaves you with a “dead” tooth which is somehow toxic to your body, blaming the treatment for a wide range of conditions from arthritis to cancer. Innocent victims of this plague of bad information are making appointments with their dentists to have their root canal treated teeth extracted. This happens everyday.
In reality, good research (both government and independently funded) has shown us time and again that RCT may even have a greater likelihood of a healthy outcome than the alternative — extraction and implant placement. No man-made substitute will ever fit your mouth as well as your own natural tooth. Let us briefly consider the nature of RCT and how in many cases it may be your best choice.
What happens to my tooth during RCT?
There is a common misconception that at the end of RCT your tooth no longer has a root. In reality, however, the root is entirely preserved. All teeth naturally have a hollow center that houses the nerve. Deep tooth decay causes infection of the nerve and eventually produces an abscess in the bone under the tooth. RCT consists simply of removing infected nerve tissue, disinfecting with antimicrobial rinse, and then filling the hollow space with a natural, plant-based, biocompatible rubber filling known as gutta percha. With RCT successfully accomplished, your body can naturally combat the bacterial abscess and regrow healthy bone.
Please notice that all changes made during RCT happen inside the tooth. Your tooth still has its root, and that root is still covered with the wonderful, living, connective tissue cells that hold your tooth in the jawbone. It is not an exaggeration to say that your body can’t tell the difference between a natural tooth and one which has undergone RCT.
Is RCT always the right answer? Absolutely not. Together with implants, bridges, and a host of other treatment options, RCT is a wonderful tool in the toolbox of your knowledgeable, capable dentist who can help you determine what treatment will be best in your individual situation.
Think you might need RCT? Come visit Better Dental in Apex or Cary, NC for a consultation.