Do Root Treated Teeth Cause Cancer?

I recently had the following email from Dr Wayne Hirschowitz (a highly proficient referring dentist and senior partner at Practice on the Green Dental Care in Bushey, Herts), and I thought it would be an interesting first post on my blog.

“A patient asked me to comment on this report she accessed. It makes interesting reading. The website is unknown to me so I’m sure the credibility is questionable. http://www.realfarmacy.com/97-of-terminal-cancer-patients-previously-had-this-dental-procedure/

My answer was as follows:

There is nothing very new here, a very well-worn argument going back to the 1900′s and the Focal infection theory.

There is always a grain of truth in any discussion and it is well known that we cannot clean root canals and that the bacteria and/or the inflammatory process can cause problems elsewhere. I can even point to cases I have treated where systemic issues have resolved following root canal treatment, so there are individuals whose immune system is compromised in some way and endodontic infection affects them in strange unconnected ways. There will usually be other co-morbidities though suggesting that their defensive system is compromised.

The flaw in the focal infection theory argument is that the connection has not been proven. For a number of years after the theory was first published by Hunter in the 1900′s, dentists were removing teeth to treat all sorts of diseases, but it was quickly found that it did not work.

The research that is quoted is highly suspect and was carried out prior to 1950 (I believe) in a non-scientific manner. Think of all the scientific arguments you can make against an experiment where someone extracts a tooth and sticks it in a rabbit and the rabbit contracts a disease. It’s laughable really. Question whether any current evidence-based medicine is carried out nowadays based on that kind of dated unscientific research. The whole thing is magnified now and I was astounded to read that these zealots will be removing 1mm of bone around the socket. Ask what the evidence for this is!

Other wonderful lines in the piece – ’97% of terminal cancer patients had this procedure’. I suppose that 99% of terminal cancer patients also drank milk. The proof is missing in all of these claims and it is just a playground for the conspiracy theorists who can make up any story without needing to provide the evidence.

I suggest that you tell the patient who asked for your comments that she could attend a dentist who follows these archaic principles and have her teeth extracted and jaws hollowed out just in case they might be breeding some disease. They will then happily drill down adjacent teeth for bridgework providing non-metallic bridges that will leak, damage pulps and lead to more extractions because you cannot root treat them. Researched and proven titanium implants can cause metallic issues so dentures will be the only way forward, but will be uncomfortable because the jaw has been damaged by excessive bone removal . Perhaps they will put in zirconium implants, but these will probably fail after a few years as too little research has been done on them.

Alternatively, the patient could come and be treated by yourself, who does dentistry based on modern, scientifically proven evidence.

There is always a choice.

I will get a few patients a year questioning along these lines. I will always tell them that they have this choice and that extraction is always a viable option but not one I feel is in their best interest.

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About Us

The Academy of Advanced Endodontics is a specialist endodontic practice delivering high quality patient diagnosis and treatment together with endodontic training for all levels of practitioners.

A team of training specialist endodontists is lead by Richard Kahan and all treatment is supervised by Richard.