Why Do Root Canals Have Such A Bad Reputation?

Root canals are a very common dental procedure that can help to preserve a tooth when it's either severely decayed or seriously damaged. However, many people downright dread root canals despite having never had one. This is typically due to the bad reputation that root canals have among the general public. So is there really something you need to fear? In the hands of a trained and licensed dentist, not really. Here's some of the common reasons why root canals have been falsely labeled as being problematic.

Pain = Fear

Most people have had a cavity, and many have had a bit of discomfort as a result of it. However, when a tooth gets to the point where it needs a root canal, usually this pain is anything but minor.

The reason for this is the mechanism behind your tooth's pain. With an average cavity, part of the interior of the tooth is invaded by bacteria, which can trigger the nerves to send a pain signal to the brain. However, with a more severe form of decay or injury to the tooth, this damage tends to be deeper in the tooth and impacts the nerves more as a result. As the nerves come into contact with debris and bacteria, the pain can become excruciating.

Unfortunately, being in a state of pain often makes people fearful. The idea of potentially experiencing more discomfort in an effort to fix the problem is understandably nerve-wracking for many. However, the reality is that root canals are always performed under either local or general anesthesia, ensuring that you don't feel a thing while your teeth are being worked on. You'll likely be more comfortable during the procedure than you've been in a long time.


Like with drilling a tooth for a cavity, there's a fair amount of noise generated when you're having a root canal performed. This can't be avoided, as the drill is a necessity in treating a tooth this way. Unfortunately, for some people, this generates anxiety just listening to it, let alone actually having a tooth treated. If you've ever heard the high-pitched whir of a dentist's drill sitting in the waiting room and felt nervous as a result, you might be one of them.

As previously mentioned, though, you won't be in any pain while that drill is being utilized. Nothing should be felt during your treatment regardless of the form of anesthesia used. If the sound of the drill makes you feel anxious, you can plan ahead by bringing a pair of noise-blocking earplugs, or you can listen to music with earbuds while the procedure is being performed. In some cases, dentists themselves may offer these options to patients, so don't be afraid to ask.

Getting a root canal will save your tooth, so it's well worth getting one. Talk to a dentist if you have further concerns.