There are certainly more than enough things for all of us to worry about these days. On a positive note, I can state with the highest levels of confidence that one thing that you unequivocally do NOT have to worry about is getting cancer as the result of a root canal treatment!
A few patients have recently asked me about a documentary on Netflix entitled Root Cause. It’s hard to believe, but there are people calling themselves professionals out there who are falsely linking endodontic therapy, also known as root canal therapy, to an increase in cancer rates. Their “focal infection theory” however, is not in any way based on modern-day, peer-reviewed science and medicine, but instead utilizes scare tactics and inaccurate cause and effect assumptions to scare people into doing something far more dangerous than having a root canal treatment… NOT having a root canal treatment when one is required!
Over 100 years ago, a dentist by the name of Weston Prince devised a theory that root canal treatment posed a significant danger to its subjects by leaving dangerous bacteria behind in a tooth, This bacteria, believers of this theory assert, then releases toxins into the bloodstream and throughout the body to ultimately cause cancer. Keep in mind however, that this was a theory that was relied upon over a CENTURY ago, when modern day root canal treatment procedures and protocols in no way resembled what they are today. Things like irrigation, appropriate and effective medications, and microscopy were simply not available in those days, not to to mention the profound difference in dental instrumentation and materials utilized now versus then.
Furthermore, those pandering this false claim are incorrectly relying upon cause and effect to substantiate their stance. In the documentary, they make their “case” by citing that 97% of terminal breast cancer patients previously had root canal procedures. They therefore erroneously conclude that root canal treatments cause cancer. What they overlook however, is that 1) the highest incidence of breast cancer amongst females is among those who are 5o to 70 years of age, and 2) the age range in which most individuals require root canal therapy is – you guessed it – 50 to 75! What they are describing here is nothing more than correlation – NOT cause and effect.
This documentary disseminates dangerous misinformation. As I mentioned earlier, NOT having a tooth treated by root canal therapy can at best be risky and in the worst-case scenario, even deadly. More specifically, not having a tooth treated by root canal therapy when it is required can result in cellulitis, sepsis or infection of the blood, myocarditis or infection of the heart muscle and even brain abscesses, not to mention excruciating pain.
I urge you to talk with your dentist if you have been advised that you require a root canal treatment. Tell him or her your concerns and don’t be afraid to ask questions. As I always maintain, a healthy patient is an educated patient!
If you are interested in doing some more reading on this topic, I suggest checking out these two links: