The internet is a great resource for gaining knowledge that would otherwise be difficult to come across. However, it can be equally harmful when false information begins to circulate. When it comes to oral health, an ongoing myth is that having a badly decayed tooth restored by root canal can threaten your life. The bad information has many people asking, “do root canals cause cancer?” Continue reading to get the truth from a local dentist!
The Origin of the Myth
Although the idea that root canals can cause cancer began in the 1920’s, it amazingly still has legs today, as it is currently traveling around the internet. It originated with Dr. Weston Price, a dentist in the early 20th century who ran a series of tests that would later be determined to be flawed.
Based on his research, he concluded that dead teeth that had undergone root canal therapy were still infected with harmful toxins. He believed that the toxins acted as a breeding ground for cancer, arthritis, heart disease and other serious health conditions.
Adding “fuel to the fire,” many critics of root canal therapy argue that the modern dental community is conspiring to suppress the work of Dr. Price. A prominent voice in the fight is Dr. Joseph Mercola, who follows Dr. Price’s research. He has been quoted as saying, “97 percent of terminal cancer patients previously had a root canal.”
Is this true?
Disproving the Myth
One of the problems the dental community has with Dr. Price’s research is that his methods were flawed. Here are some specific gripes:
- The tests were performed in nonsterile environments.
- The conditions of the experiments were poorly controlled.
- Other researchers have not been able to duplicate his results.
The Truth About Root Canals
The purpose of a root canal is to repair a badly damaged or decayed tooth by removing the infected tissue at the center. If bacteria are allowed to continue growing, it can lead to an abscess, bone loss, severe infection and serious health issues in the mouth and the rest of the body. Thus, failing to have a root canal performed could be far more detrimental than the procedure itself.
Dentists and scientists also agree that there is virtually no evidence connecting root canal therapy and other diseases. Instead, they see the false narrative as a deterrence against receiving vital dental care.
There is no concrete evidence that receiving a root canal causes cancer. However, there is an overwhelming amount of data on the connection between uncontrolled bacteria growth and the development of the following life-threatening conditions:
- Oral cancer
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
- Pancreatic cancer
If you’re experiencing a painful toothache or you’re noticing other warning signs of tooth decay, don’t hesitate to have it treated by a local dentist. It can save your tooth and actually help to prevent cancer and other health issues!
About the Author
Dr. Gregory C. Gell earned his dental degree from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. He would later go on to receive his Certificate in Endodontics from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Dental School. For nearly 20 years, Dr. Gell has specialized in Endodontics, helping his patients recover from tooth pain and damage by performing root canal therapy. He practices at Afton Endodontics, and he can be reached for more information or to schedule a visit through his website.