Cancer is one of the deadliest conditions that a person can ever think about. It is a life-altering condition. Although certain habits and lifestyles typically cause most of the cancers, several other factors can contribute to the formation of cancer in the body.
A myth about root canal causing cancer has been becoming popular these days. Some documentaries and programs have also highlighted this concept in which cancer formation is linked with asymptomatic infections in root canals or empty spaces around the wisdom tooth.
According to this theory, the bacteria and toxins from the root canal have the potential to migrate to other organs in the body and spread infections leading to the formation of cancer in the long run. However, there is no clinical evidence that supports this theory. Moreover, research studies have proven that root canal infections do not cause cancer.
Today’s article will highlight the myths about root canal and cancer formation. Furthermore, we will take a closer look at the scientific facts that disapprove of this correlation.
A root canal is a type of dental treatment that aims at repairing damaged or infected pulp tissue. During this procedure dentist drill, the tooth to access the root canal removes the infected pulp tissue, cleans the canal, and fills it with a rubber-like material. (1)
The infection of the pulp tissue typically occurs due to tooth decay or fracture of the tooth. However, this condition and proceed into a severe dental disease if left untreated. Some of the complications of untreated tooth infection may include –
- Tooth abscess
- Tooth mobility
- Loss of teeth
- Gum swelling
- Spread of disease in the jaw bone
- Severe toothache
What is the connection between a root canal and cancer?
A myth about the correlation between a root canal and cancer has been present since the 1920s. This theory suggests that root canal infections are one of the potential causes of cancer and other harmful systemic diseases. This myth about root canal and cancer gained recent popularity when it got featured in a documentary.
Typically, this myth originated from research done by Weston Price – a dentist from the early 20th century who performed a series of poorly designed dental tests. According to Price’s research, dead teeth or infected pulp tissue harbor incredibly harmful toxins even after root canal treatment. Furthermore, he documented that these toxins act as a breeding ground for cancer-producing cells. (2)
Additionally, these toxins also have the potential to cause heart disease, arthritis, and other systemic conditions.
Disapproving facts about the theory
To see scientifically, the basis of root canal causing cancer is incorrect. Moreover, this myth is a public health hazard as it is creating fear in the minds of the people. More people are declining root canal therapy, which is essential for treating tooth infections. Some of the disapproving facts about Price’s research are listed below –
- First, the conditions of Price’s research experiment were poorly controlled
- All the tests were performed in a non-sterile environment increasing the risk of contamination or cross-infection (3)
- No other scientific research has been able to duplicate the results obtained by Weston’s price. Moreover, no peer-reviewed controlled studies show a reliable link between root canal and cancer.
What are the after-effects of this theory?
People who believe this theory delay root canal treatment to such an extent that the tooth breaks and goes for extraction. Removing the teeth increases dental complications, as well as the cost of replacement for such patients. It is always best to save your tooth rather than getting it removed.
There is clear scientific evidence that proves the success of root canal treated teeth. Moreover, many people who get root canal treatment are healthy, and the treated tooth lasts for a lifetime. (4)
What is the connection between oral and systemic health?
Our mouth is not a part of the whole body; often, it is referred to as the window that leads into the body systems. Many study articles link the oral cavity to systemic diseases. For example, chronic dental inflammation such as periodontal disease contributes to diabetes, respiratory disorder, low-birth-weight babies, and cardiovascular diseases.
Other studies reveal that treating conditions in the mouth also has a healing effect on some of the hidden systemic illnesses. Therefore, there is a strong connection between the health of the dental tissues and the overall health and well-being of the individual. However, not all theories must be believed. Always find out a scientific background of the study before accepting it. (5)
Take away message
Today, there is a lot of misinformation about dental diseases. The idea of root canal causing cancer is a myth that doesn’t have valid research. It was originated from the research study of Weston price.
Price suggested that root canal treated teeth contain toxins that are potentially harmful to systemic health. Moreover, it causes cancer in the body. Many people believed this theory and ignored root canal therapy that mainly saves the tooth.
It is essential always to pay attention to the research background of any study. Price’s theory consists of a series of disapproving facts. First, the experiments were poorly controlled and performed in a non-sterile environment.
Moreover, similar studies performed by several other types of research failed to duplicate the results obtained by Price’s theory. This proves that there is no reason to fear root canal therapy as it does not cause cancer.
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