Xander Howell is an associate dentist at our Jesmond practice. He is a member of the Faculty of Dental Surgeons (MFDS), a member of the British Endodontics Society, and is currently completing a Masters Degree in Endodontics. Here, he writes about the myths surrounding root canal treatment.

As dentists, we appreciate that patients can be anxious about coming to visit us, and in my experience once of the phrases that people dread to hear most is ‘root canal treatment’. However, I have found that this is also one of the most poorly understood procedures carried out in my clinical practice, and I want to dispel some myths surrounding this painless alternative to removing a tooth, and to shine some light on the treatment process.

Why do I need root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is carried out to repair and save a badly damaged tooth. It is usually required when the nerve within the tooth becomes damaged or dies, usually as the result of a crack, trauma, infection, deep decay or large filling.

Some of the symptoms you may experience if you have a tooth requiring root canal treatment include:

  • Pain on biting
  • Waking during the night with toothache
  • Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold
  • A pimple on the gum
  • A large hole or crack in the tooth

But root canal treatment is painful, isn’t it…?
This is the question I hear the most when I tell people that root canal treatment is an option, and is the biggest myth surrounding it. Root canal treatment is carried out with dental anaesthetic, and therefore is a completely painless procedure. People require root canal treatment because they are in pain already. It does not cause pain itself.

Wasn’t there a documentary that said root canal treatment was detrimental to your health?
Last year Netflix published, and then removed a documentary, which claimed that root canal caused a host of systemic diseases. Due to the poor quality science, factual inaccuracies and political agendas within the documentary an unprecedented, unified response was released from the British, American and European Endodontic Societies, ultimately resulting in the documentary being pulled. In short, there was absolutely no truth to its claims, and if root canal treatment was indeed bad for your health, we simply wouldn’t offer it.

What is involved in the procedure?
Once the tooth is completely numb, a rubber sheet is placed around it. This allows us to keep the tooth completely clean as we carry out the treatment. A small window is made in the top of the tooth, allowing access to the space where the damaged or dead nerve sits. Fine instruments, and a disinfectant solution are used to clean out the nerve and any infection. The space is then filled with a rubber material to prevent any re-infection. Following the treatment a crown is usually required to prevent the tooth fracturing in future.

Will it work?
When carried out to a gold standard protocol, using the latest materials and techniques, this treatment gives a high and predictable success rate of 90-97%. A success with this procedure is the tooth being symptom-free in five years.

At Honour Health, we are very experienced at working with nervous patients, and our top priority is helping patients to feel relaxed and comfortable when they visit us.

To make an appointment with Xander at Honour Health in Jesmond, book online, call 0191 281 3913, email jesmond@honourhealth.co.uk or visit Honour Health at 90 Osborne Road, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne. NE2 2AP

We also have clinics in Ponteland (call 01661 821 412) and Stanley (call 01207 232 725).