March 17

The Cause Is Rarely the Root!

The Cause Is Rarely the Root!

Author : Dr. Samson Lee, General Dentist, Mississauga

While treatment of tooth pain and in particular nerve pain has been around for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until 1838 that the first root canal instruments were invented. Fortunately, in the almost 200 years since that first root canal instrument was used, there have been major advances in equipment, materials, techniques and pain control like the ones used at Credit River Dental Centre in Mississauga. In the 1920’s, about 100 years ago, a dentist by the name of Weston Price propagated the idea that root canals leave enough bacteria behind as to cause a whole host of medical conditions. He called this the focal infection theory and advocated for the extraction of all endodontically treated teeth for this reason. This concept was also the subject of a controversial Netflix documentary called “Root Cause” that went so far as to suggest that there was a direct link between cancer and root canals.

Modern Advancements in Dentistry

As you can imagine, since the time of Dr. Weston Price, there have been a lot of advances in the field of not just endodontics but dentistry as a whole. Unfortunately for Dr. Price, Penicillin would not be used on the first patient until 1942. The documentary was filled with a lot of misinformation with many statements that are not based on research or science or at the very least, very outdated information. In fact, the opposite is true of many of the claims made in the movie. For example, the risk of cardiovascular disease actually goes up if a tooth is left untreated with an abscess.

Root Canals and Cancer – Fact or Fiction?

As far as the cancer-causing claim, the movie claims that 97% of patients with breast cancer, have also had a root canal on a same side as the cancer. This however, is evidence of merely a correlation and not a cause. Just because a person has experienced both, it doesn’t mean a cause-and-effect relationship exists. This would be like saying “100% of cancer patients drink water”. A study published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found not only was there no cancer risk by having root canal treatment, but in patients with multiple root canals, there was a 45% reduction in cancer risk.

Advancements in medicine like antibiotics, techniques and technologies have made endodontic treatment a very predictable and successful treatment option. Digital imaging including x-rays and CBCT (cone beam computed tomography), rotary instruments, powerful disinfectants, and medicated filling materials all contribute to ensure successful root canal treatment.

Root canal treatment has experienced, and will continue to experience some of the highest success rates found in dentistry. Root canals prevent the need for extractions and unnecessary loss of teeth and contribute to a healthy and functional dentition.

Seek Professional Root Canal Treatment Advice in Mississauga

To learn more about root canal treatment in Mississauga, we welcome you to call us at Credit River Dental Centre, where your Mississauga dentist and our patient coordinator will be happy to book you in for a complimentary consultation regarding root canal treatment, endodontic treatment or alternative solutions. Give us a call at 905-278-4297.


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Root Canal


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