Root Canals and Health Problems
Do root canals cause health problems? You may have heard rumors that root canals can lead to future issues, including ones as serious as cancer. Fears related to these rumors may dissuade you from seeking a root canal when you need it.
At Midtown Endodontist NYC, we want to set the record straight. While you may experience mild discomfort when you undergo a root canal, you will not experience the long-term health issues sometimes associated with the procedure. There has been no scientific evidence linking root canals and severe health problems. In reality, the procedure is safe and often necessary for proper oral health.
Root Canal Misinformation
A root canal is a procedure used to treat damaged or infected teeth. During the procedure, the endodontist drills through the center of the tooth to the root and removes the infected root pulp. Then, they clean out and fill the canals.
Why do people continue to conflate root canals with long-term health issues? The reason for the misconception dates back a century to a dentist named Dr. Price, who published research that has since been disproven about the link between tooth infections and chronic diseases. In the 1920s, researchers had not identified the cause of most diseases. Dr. Price falsely theorized that diseases such as arthritis, nervous system conditions, kidney dysfunction, and more could be linked to bacteria “leaking” from the tooth during a root canal.
The research by Dr. Price prompted many dentists to favor tooth extraction instead of endodontic treatment. By the 1930s, the study conducted by Dr. Price had been disproven, but the consequences of his false information continued. The perception that root canals caused health problems had been planted, and erasing the misconception has proven difficult decades later.
Do Root Canals Cause Cancer?
One common myth often repeated by those outside the endodontics field is that root canals cause cancer. The origin of this claim again dates back to Dr. Price and his faulty research. He tied cancer to root canals despite a lack of evidence. To this day, people continue to repeat that false claim.
In many cases, the opposite may actually be true. Undergoing a root canal can reduce long-term risks because the procedure removes a source of bacteria in your mouth. One study found that root canals and other endodontic procedures can decrease the risk of cancer by 45%.
No studies since the one by Dr. Price have linked root canals to an increased risk of cancer. Root canals are a trusted procedure used by many endodontists to treat tooth pain that would otherwise continue and cause further health issues. Getting a root canal will not raise your risk of developing cancer or any other disease in the long term.
Root Canal Safety
In reality, root canals are a safe and necessary procedure that can help you maintain proper oral health. The alternative to a root canal is extracting a tooth, which is the most traumatic thing a dentist can do to your mouth. Putting off a root canal you need can lead to pain and other long-term issues, such as:
- Cracks in the tooth that allow bacteria to enter the tooth pulp.
- Formation of an abscess, or pocket of pus.
- Spread of infection from the mouth to neck or head tissue.
Root canals protect your mouth from further damage and reduce the risk of your infection spreading. They are the best treatment for a deep cavity or tooth crack.
Do Root Canals Cause Health Problems?
The short answer is no. Delaying the care you need, on the other hand, can harm your health. Root canals offer a safe way to treat oral health issues, and you will feel better and reduce pain when you undergo the procedure.