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Snakes, spiders or a root canal? Which would you choose?

A spider

Oct. 31, 2019— What scary thing would you choose to do if it could help you avoid a root canal? Spend an hour in a spider-filled room? Go swimming with sharks?

It turns out many people would rather do these and other uncomfortable things than open their mouth for a root canal, according to a survey by the American Association of Endodontists (AAE). According to the AAE, root canals today are a virtually painless procedure, but people would still go to great lengths to avoid them.

The survey found that women are more afraid of root canals than men—65% and 53%, respectively. Younger people—18 to 24 years old—have a deeper fear of the procedure than older people.

Rather than having a root canal, the survey found that:

  • 77% of people would rather go a day without a smartphone.
  • 69% would prefer to spend two hours in an elevator with a stranger.
  • 62% would rather run a marathon.
  • 57% would rather spend an hour in a room with 10 spiders.
  • 54% would choose to sing the national anthem at a sports game.
  • 53% would prefer a snake in their lap for 15 minutes.
  • 41% would rather go swimming with sharks.

A root canal is a procedure that removes inflamed or infected pulp from inside a diseased tooth. The inside of the tooth is then cleaned and disinfected. Afterward it is filled and sealed. According to the AAE, a root canal is very similar to a routine filling.

More from the survey

In keeping with the Halloween season, the AAE also quizzed people about the safest candy for their teeth. Only 19% correctly identified chocolate as one of the safest, while only about 23% of 18- to 24-year-olds were able to identify gummy candies as the worst.

You can read the full results of the survey at the AAE website.

And you can learn about caring for your teeth in our Dental Care health topic center .

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