CHICAGO - When patients hear that they "need a root canal," most dental
professionals will agree the news is met with great anxiety and fear.
The American Association of Endodontists hopes to dispel myths and misconceptions of this often-maligned, but virtually painless, dental procedure during the first-ever Root Canal Awareness Week.
From April 1-7, the AAE and endodontists nationwide will celebrate with a series of special events, including nationwide media initiatives, community-based programs, and outreach to general dentists.
"It may sound peculiar to dedicate a week after a dental procedure, but Root Canal Awareness Week has an important educational purpose," said AAE president John S. Olmsted, DDS, MS, Greensboro, N.C. "In addition to assuaging patient's fears, we are reaching out to the dental community to show how endodontists contribute value to the dental team."
All dentists share responsibility for educating patients about treatment options, particularly those that can save natural dentition. During Root Canal Awareness Week, the AAE encourages all dental professionals to assist in its mission by explaining how root canal treatment eliminates pain and helps patients keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.
In fact, research shows that saving natural teeth has extensive health implications. A December 2005 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that tooth loss was associated with a greater risk of heart disease, with those who had lost the most teeth at the greatest risk.
This remained the case even when other risk factors such as smoking, alcohol and obesity were taken into account. Another study, published in the November 2006 Journal of Dental Research, found a relationship between endodontic disease--which root canals treat--and coronary heart disease.
Root canal treatment saves more than 17 million natural teeth each year,
making it more hero than villain. A recent AAE survey revealed that patients who've experienced root canal treatment are six times more likely to describe it as painless than those who haven't had the treatment.
In another AAE study, general dentists from around the country listed endodontists as one of their most trusted and reliable sources of information about endodontic treatment. With at least two additional years of advanced training in the specialty beyond dental school, endodontists have turned even the most complex procedures into routine treatment.
"Advanced training and new technologies have allowed endodontists to revolutionize root canal treatment," said Dr. Olmsted. "We have been able to transform a procedure that once was completed with the naked eye and standard dental instruments into a truly microsurgical process."
For more information about Root Canal Awareness Week and how you can
join in the AAE's activities, or to find an endodontist in your area, visit www.rootcanalspecialists.org.