Supposedly, they’re painful, but ask someone who’s gotten one recently and you’ll likely hear that the procedure was relatively pain-free.
But that’s kind of old news these days, and many people know that the concept of a painful root canal is only a myth.
Recently, we’ve been seeing more on the internet about the idea that root canals cause cancer and other terrible diseases. This is despite the fact that the primary research that supports this idea was discredited in the middle of the 20th century.
The research in question was performed by Weston A Price, but his methods failed to meet required scientific standards and no research that has since attempted to recreate his findings has been successful.
There is no valid evidence that root canals increase the risk for any cancers, nor any of the many health issues that some people claim.
A popular theory is that root canals cause mercury toxicity, as mercury is one of several elements often included in the amalgam that is used to fill the root canal following the treatment of the infection.
There is no compelling evidence to support this theory. Mercury is so tightly bonded to the other metals in the filling that it is not released into the body.
Some of the dentists that have suggested the removal of mercury fillings have lost their licenses, including the most prominent of them; Hal Huggins, who practiced out of Colorado Springs.
In the case that ultimately cost him his license, Huggins admitted that he had no scientific evidence for either the release of significant levels of mercury into the body from fillings nor any connection between the presence of fillings and any diseases. In fact, his center told every single patient that sought a consultation that they were suffering from mercury toxicity and recommended expensive care at the center; a sure sign that his practice was a scam.
Despite this, charlatans like Huggins have spread their misinformation far and wide on the internet. In fact, searches for information on mercury toxicity from fillings and cancer-causing root canals produce a high number of results.
These dentists use fear tactics to encourage patients to register for expensive treatments. Though some may be operating in a state of confusion, others know the truth about the science of root canals and fillings but choose to use fear anyway to bring in high-dollar patients.
You can read articles on this issue on the American Association of Endodontist’s website here.
About the Author
Dr. Harris has been a practicing dentist and oral surgeon since 2005. In 2012, he received his Master’s of Science in Dentistry and a certificate in Endodontics. He founded East Coast Endodontics shortly after receiving his master’s degree. He also currently holds a part-time position as a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Endodontics department at Virginia Commonwealth University. View his full bio.