4 Jun

What are the Common Myths About Root Canals?

Root Canal Treatment

Imagine your tooth as a house. The walls and roof are the hard enamel and dentin, protecting the soft, pulpy interior—the “living room” of your tooth.

Now, picture a leaky faucet in your house’s plumbing. If left unattended, that small leak can cause major damage, eventually leading to the need for major repairs or even demolition. Ignoring a damaged or infected tooth pulp can cause severe complications.

That’s where the root canal comes in. It’s like fixing the leaky faucet in your tooth’s “living room.” The dentist carefully removes the infected pulp tissue, similar to cleaning out a clogged drain.

Even though root canals effectively address infected teeth, they’ve unfortunately developed a reputation for being unpleasant. Many people have heard scary stories or hold onto outdated beliefs about the procedure. This blog aims to dispel those myths and shed light on the reality of root canals.

So, buckle up and get ready to learn the truth about root canals! 

Myth #1: Root canals are painful.

This myth can deter people from seeking this important dental treatment, leading to further complications. However, the reality is that modern root canal treatments are performed under local anesthesia, making them no more painful than a routine filling. The pain you might be experiencing is actually coming from the infected tooth itself, not the procedure. 

Several celebrities have openly discussed their experiences with root canals, helping to dispel the myth that they are painful procedures. Here are a few examples:

Alfonso Ribeiro: The actor and host of America’s Funniest Home Videos emphasized how grateful he was for his root canal treatment. He acknowledged the initial apprehension but highlighted the relief from pain and the importance of addressing dental issues promptly.

Kelly Clarkson: The singer shared her experience on social media, even posting a picture of herself before the procedure. While expressing nervousness, she acknowledged the necessity of the treatment.

Tom Cruise: Though not directly commenting on the procedure itself, Cruise’s transformation from misaligned teeth to a Hollywood smile likely involved various dental treatments, including potential root canals.

These examples demonstrate that even celebrities, with access to top-notch dental care, sometimes require root canals. Their openness about the procedure helps normalize it and encourages others to seek necessary dental treatment without fear.

Myth #2: Root canals cause illness.

This myth is a persistent misconception, and it’s crucial to understand that root canal treatment itself does not cause illness. It stems from outdated research and has been thoroughly debunked by modern scientific evidence.

American Dental Association (ADA): Despite some misconceptions, root canals are a well-established procedure. The ADA assures patients that there’s no scientific basis for the claim that root canals cause other health problems. They endorse root canals as a safe and effective way to preserve teeth and avoid complications.

American Association of Endodontists (AAE): The AAE, a professional organization dedicated to endodontics (root canal treatment), also strongly refutes the myth of root canals causing illness. They state that “numerous scientific studies have been conducted over the years, and none have shown a link between root canals and systemic disease.”

Myth #3: Root canals are a failure and the tooth will need to be extracted.

Another common misconception is that root canals are a failure and the tooth will ultimately need to be extracted. This is not true. Root canals have a high success rate, often exceeding 90%, meaning the vast majority of treated teeth remain healthy and functional for many years.

Even if a root canal doesn’t initially succeed, there’s usually the option for retreatment, which also has a high success rate. Tooth Extraction should only be considered as a last resort, as it can lead to further complications like bone loss and difficulty replacing the missing tooth.

Myth #4: Root canals take a long time.

Contrary to popular belief, modern techniques and equipment allow most root canals to be completed in one or two appointments. The procedure itself usually takes about an hour, and the recovery time is relatively quick.

Here’s why this myth is inaccurate:

Advanced Technology: Modern dental tools and techniques have significantly reduced the time required for root canals. Dentists can now use specialized equipment like microscopes and advanced imaging to efficiently access and clean the tooth’s interior.

Quick Recovery: After the procedure, most people experience minimal discomfort and can resume their normal activities within a few days.

Myth #5: Root canals are unnecessary if you don’t have a toothache.

Many people believe that root canals are only necessary if you’re experiencing a toothache. While a throbbing pain is often a clear sign of a needed root canal, this isn’t always the case. The truth is, a tooth can require this treatment even without pain.

Here’s why:

Silent Infection: The infected pulp inside a tooth can die without causing pain, especially in the early stages. This doesn’t mean the infection is gone; it simply means the nerves are no longer sending pain signals.

Hidden Damage: X-rays and other diagnostic tools are essential for detecting these silent infections and other damage within the tooth that may not be evident from symptoms alone.

Progressive Problem: Untreated infections can spread and worsen over time, leading to complications like abscesses, bone loss, and ultimately, tooth loss.

Therefore, it’s important to remember that the absence of pain doesn’t guarantee a healthy tooth. Regular dental checkups and X-rays are crucial for identifying potential problems and determining if a root canal is necessary, even if you’re not experiencing pain.

Myth #6: Antibiotic treatment can replace a root canal.

Many people believe that taking antibiotics can replace the need for a root canal. However, this is a dangerous misconception that can lead to serious complications if left untreated. While antibiotics can sometimes play a supporting role in managing dental infections, they cannot replace a root canal in most cases.

Here’s why:

Limited Scope: Antibiotics work by targeting and killing bacteria in the bloodstream. However, the bacteria causing a tooth infection often reside within the intricate canals and chambers of the tooth’s pulp, which are inaccessible to antibiotics circulating in the blood.

Temporary Relief: Antibiotics may temporarily alleviate symptoms like pain and swelling, but they do not address the underlying cause of the infection. The bacteria can remain dormant within the tooth and flare up again later, potentially leading to worse complications like abscesses, bone loss, and ultimately, tooth loss.

Myth #7: Root canals are dangerous for pregnant women.

Root canals are generally considered safe to perform during pregnancy when done with appropriate precautions. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the procedure itself can harm the mother or the developing fetus.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): ACOG states that “most dental procedures, including root canals, are safe during pregnancy when performed with appropriate precautions.” They emphasize the importance of maintaining good oral health during pregnancy and recommend discussing any dental concerns with your healthcare provider.

American Dental Association (ADA): The ADA also confirms the safety of root canals during pregnancy, stating that “there is no evidence that root canals are harmful to pregnant women or their developing babies.” They advise pregnant women to inform their dentist of their pregnancy and discuss any necessary dental procedures.


We’ve cleared up common myths about root canals: they’re safe, effective, and don’t cause illness. Modern procedures are efficient and comfortable. If you have tooth pain or concerns, schedule an appointment at Emergency Dental Clinic. We’ll provide the highest quality care and address any root canal needs you may have. Visit our website or call us today to schedule your consultation. Don’t let myths prevent you from seeking the dental care you need!