Most root canal treatments not needed, warn UAE dentists
Dental experts say root canal is the last treatment to be considered and 9 out of 10 patients do not need a root filling. Much less invasive and cheaper options can be carried out in most cases.
Abu Dhabi - Dentists must inform their patients that only 10 per cent of the cases need a root canal.
Almost nine out of 10 patients never required root canal treatment but most were unnecessarily lured into the invasive treatment, an Abu Dhabi doctor has said.
As Root Canal Awareness Week gets under way across the globe, Dr Per Rehnberg, CEO of Snö Dental, is warning against the over-use of the treatment. He urged patients to obtain all the facts before proceeding with it. "Root canal is the absolute last thing you should consider for your teeth; everything should be done to ensure natural teeth are kept vital."
He stressed that patients who often complain about tooth ache, which can be caused by a cavity, can usually have a much less invasive and cheaper option done than the root canal treatment.
"The problem is that around 10 per cent of the band aid cases (traditional filling) will need a root filling, that is why many dentists are often quick to suggest a root canal. But nine out of 10 patients do not actually need a root filling."
He pointed out that dentists must inform their patients that only 10 per cent of the cases need a root canal and share with them the other available options.
Moreover, Dr Rehnberg exp-lained that health insurance companies pay much more for a root canal treatment than the traditional filling, which could be why many dental clinics lure patients into getting the costly treatment.
He added that the band aid treatment costs around Dh500, whereas a root canal treatment is usually around Dh3,000, and will also require extra procedures, including placing a crown on top of the tooth, which costs another Dh2,000.
"What we have seen is that the root canal treatment has become a common option, or even a first-time option when the pat-ient only has slight tooth ache."
In fact, Dr Rehnberg and his team conducted a mystery shopping survey around the UAE to identify the clinics that provide thorough information to the patients, and those that recommend invasive, costly and unnecessary treatments. "We wanted to look at the diagnoses and suggestions for treatment, and we found that it is very common to suggest the root canal treatment before they even knew what to do.
"We took 15 people from our company and sent them out for the mystery shopping in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and found that most dentists showed a lack of proper documentation. Many patients were also suggested the root can-als, which we later treated with simpler and more affordable treatments."
He said that it is important for patients to trust their dentists; however, it is also important to receive transparent information about the alternatives.
Dr Rehnberg added that people are more prone to having dental cavities in the UAE, for various reasons that are often related to their lifestyle choices, including smoking and eating sugary and processed foods.
However, having cavities does not necessarily mean patients have to turn to the invasive treatment. "I've seen people who had low risk and still had root canals. This is a sign of possible over-treatment."
He also noted that official documentation is necessary for the pat-ient in order to be able to receive second opinions.
"If a dentist is reluctant to allow the patients to keep their documents, then this is a concern, because it's a matter of trust."
Dr Gun Norell of Snö Dental, who has worked in dentistry in various parts of the world for over 30 years, said raising awareness on the matter is key.
"We urge people to seek a second opinion before having invasive treatments carried out, and advise that they think about root canal as the last option rather than the first."
Free second opinions for patientsTo help support patients with their decision, Snö Dental is offering free second opinions on root canal treatments for all residents of Abu Dhabi, during Root Canal Awareness Week from May 6-12.
"We always evaluate the teeth and if we can avoid over treatment by providing a less invasive option for the tooth to recover, we will do that," said Dr Per Rehnberg, CEO of Snö Dental.