“I’d Rather Have  Another Baby than a Root Canal!”

It’s funny (maybe even alarming) how often we hear middle aged (and older) women proclaim their preference for suffering through childbirth with no pain medication over ever facing the need for a root canal.

I distinctly remember when I was growing up, a kid in the 1970’s, hearing family members scary stories about their experiences with the “Dreaded Root Canal!”

 Root Canal Myth Busters

Root canal

A photo to describe what root canal treatment actually means….less scary now?

Root canals tend to be the Rodney Dangerfields of dental care.  They “Just don’t get no respect!” Fact is there are many myths associated with root canals.  We’re going to clear a couple of them up right here and now.  It’s really important for you to have a “fair and just” view.  Why?  ‘Cause there’s a chance you may need one some day, and it’d be a shame if you delayed getting necessary care based upon urban legend or myth!

 Root Canal Myth #1

 “It’s the most painful thing you’ll ever endure… avoid them any way you can!”

Root canal

Having a root canal shouldn’t be scary!

It’s often said the myths and rumors are borne of some inkling of truth.  Some Fact.  Unfortunately that is the case when it comes to root canals of yesteryear.  Decades ago, if you were in need of a root canal, there was a fair chance that your experience may involve a “memorable” dose of discomfort.

Why?  There are a couple of reasons for some patients’ “stories” of problematic, uncomfortable root canals from days gone by.

First, anesthetic technique has improved dramatically over the last couple decades.  Second, our ability to diagnose earlier (even PRIOR to ANY symptoms) has improved both with technology, and with the advent of the majority of today’s patients recognizing the advantages of regularly scheduled dental examinations.

More on the advantages of early detection in just a moment.

 Root Canal Myth #2

 “Root Canal?  I guess that’s when they remove the whole root or something!”

Not at all.  It’s really quite simple.  Inside each root there are spaces or “canals” inside which your tooth’s’ nerve and  central blood supply live.  During a “root canal” procedure, we numb up your tooth just the same as if we were going to place a new filling.  Then we remove the nerve and central blood supply, and seal off the canal.

The tooth still has blood supply coming in from all around the root surfaces, along with thousands of tiny little ligaments which hold the tooth in place.


Delaying dental care can (and likely will) escalate the need for more expensive and extensive treatment.

The vast majority of today’s root canal treatments are truly comfortable procedures.  The rare cases where more extensive methods of anesthesia may be required are typically those in which treatment was delayed for one reason or another.

The bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease can fester deep under an old, no longer functional filling.  New decay or cavities can burrow deep within a tooth and up into the nerve as well.  In some cases we see pain subside over a period of time, even without treatment.

Unfortunately when there has been pain there was likely a problem… even if it seems better today, having us check on the cause today, may save you significant time and expense tomorrow. In other cases bacteria can invade the nerve canal or even the bone deep below the tip of your roots… without ever causing pain, swelling, or any symptoms to alert you to call us.

Early detection can be critical. Even if we cannot avert the need for a root canal, the earlier you commence correction of the problem, the better your chances for a comfortable procedure and an optimally healthy outcome.

Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at kanatacosmeticdentist.com Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!