You might have heard that during President Obama’s State of the Union address he made a crack about root canals. He basically did what a lot of us do when we’re discussing something not terribly appealing like say last year’s bailout, which the president said was “about as popular as a root canal.”
Okay, so he dissed a certain dental procedure. What’s the harm? I’m preparing for a root canal (yes, I am actually in some pain as I write this, so keep that sympathy coming) and I’ve got to say, I don’t think a root canal is really so bad compared to other dental procedures. Still, if you’re trying to make a point about how bad something is or how unpleasant a certain experience proved to be, then comparing it to a root canal sort of gets the point across.
What’s interesting about all this from a public relations standpoint is how the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) reacted to Obama’s remark. (Imagine a trade group that represents root canal specialists!) In a press release from the AAE, the group criticized the President saying, “Obama unintentionally reinforced a myth and outdated misconception about the “unpopular” nature of root canal procedures.” It goes on to say that the AAE “knows that root canal procedures should not be feared, and hopes the President and all Americans become better informed for the sake of their dental and total body health.”
Clearly, the association responded quickly in a way that furthers the group’s mission to inform and educate. And it made great news (I’m pretty sure I heard something about this on CNN…). However, the notion that “most root canal treatments can be completed in one visit and are entirely comfortable” leaves me a little suspicious.
Do I sound a little sensitive? Sorry, but as I mentioned, I have my own pain going on in tooth number whatever and I am so not looking forward to the procedure. The AAE was smart to issue the press release, but I think they would’ve been more successful had they included the AAE president’s quote at the top: “While we certainly understand the President’s intent, people need to know that root canals don’t cause pain, they relieve it,” said Dr. Gerald N. Glickman, AAE president.
That I believe. Surveys (the ones references in the subhead of the release: “American Association of Endodontists (AAE) Surveys Show Patient Fear of Procedure Unrealistic, Overstated”) seem simplistic.
Overall, though, the AAE’s response was nearly perfect. Somebody moved really fast and now there are now a lot more people aware of this dental specialty.
Still, I can think of at least a dozen other things I’d rather do than have a root canal . . .