A patient recently stated that they read on the internet that root canals cause cancer.  Is there any validity to that?

Unfortunately, sources that rank high on search engines do not always rank high on truth.  So let’s set the record straight:  Root canal treatment does not cause cancer or any other disease.  The fact is that root canal treatment – performed 25 million times every year by skilled dental professionals – stops infection and saves teeth.  Let’s take a closer look at what root canal treatment is, why it’s needed and where these discredited theories come from.

A smile reveals the pearly-white crowns of your teeth.  But each tooth also has one ore  more roots that extend down into the bone beneath your gums.  In addition, there is a hollow space in the center of each tooth called the “pulp chamber” that contains living tissue (pulp).  The nerves and blood vessels of the pulp pass through narrow spaces called canals which branch from the pulp chamber and out through the root tip.  Once outside the tooth, they connect with the rest of the body.

Now let’s go back to that pearly-white tooth surface you can see.  This is enamel, the hardest substance in your body.  It protects teeth from damage and harmful bacteria.  But sometime a tiny hole (cavity) or a crack develops in the enamel that allows bacteria to get in and begin eroding the tooth.  If left alone, these bacteria may reach the pulp tissue, causing tooth destruction, inflammation and pain.

If this inflammatory process remains untreated, the pulp tissue can die off – leading to bacterial infection.  An infection inside the tooth may pass through the root canals into the surrounding tissues, bone and supporting structures.  This infection can result in a painful jaw abscess, and in rare cases may be life-threatening.  In some cases the pain may eventually subside or go away.  However, the infection won’t – even with the use of antibiotics.  Removing the infection is necessary to safeguard your oral health and even your general health.

In the 20th century, a dentist believed that leaving a “dead” organ in the body (in this case the tooth) leads to numerous seemingly unrelated issues.  Yet getting rid of dead tissue is exactly what root canal treatment does – with the significant bonus of keeping the tooth!

If you have tooth pain in Rockville, Maryland, call your Rockville dentist today to find relief today!