Updated: 2/13/2020

Root Canal Awareness Week is March 25-31 this year, and we’ll be debunking a popular root canal myth every day this week.

MYTH #3: Root canals are unnecessary if you are not in pain.

Just because you’re not in pain doesn’t necessarily mean that your oral health is in perfect condition.

There are different reasons for why your infected root may not be causing you discomfort. For example, teeth that are dead may require a root canal in order to keep the tooth from becoming infected. In another instance, if a cavity has already spread to the dentin and pulp but has not reached the root yet, it’s only a matter of time before it does. In this case, a dentist can predict that a root canal will be needed in the future and may recommend it before the infection actually occurs. Though you may not feel as though you need a root canal yet, you will if you don’t take immediate action.

Painful if You Wait

In addition, waiting until the infection becomes severe can result in more pain during the procedure. Patients who have been through root canal therapy agree: the treatment can be a little more painful if you wait until the root is actually infected than if you catch it and treat it in the early stages.

Abscesses and Anesthesia

One of the reasons that it may be more painful after the root is infected is that the infection can cause an abscess. An abscess occurs when the infection spreads to the tiny space between the tooth and the jawbone. If the infection worsens, it can become an acute abscess. This makes the root canal therapy more painful, because abscesses can be difficult to numb.

Anesthesia is very pH sensitive, and therefore the ability to numb depends on the pH of the tissue. Infections cause the pH to drop, resulting in a more acidic tissue. Under normal circumstances, anesthesia seeps into the nerves very slowly, but even more so in an acidic environment, causing numbing to occur very slowly and sometimes ineffectively.

Not to mention, getting the treatment done early is a sure way to skip all the pain you would go through once the root actually does become infected.

If you’re skeptical of your dentist’s recommendation, however, you may want to get a second opinion to see if root canal therapy really is imminent. What you do is up to you, but it should be kept in mind that getting the treatment done early could save you a lot of pain later.

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See the rest of the series:

MYTH #1: Root canal treatment is painful.

MYTH #2: Root canals cause illness.

MYTH #3: Root canals are unnecessary if you’re not in pain.

MYTH #4: Root canals are a lengthy process.

MYTH #5: It is better to just pull the tooth.