Barry Rhome, DMD, PC

Root Canal Safety & Misinformation

Endodontics plays a critical role in maintaining good oral health by not only eliminating infection and pain, but also by preserving our natural teeth.

A key responsibility of any endodontist is to reassure patients who are concerned about the safety of endodontic treatment that their overall well-being is a top priority.

The American Association of Endodontists website (www.aae.org) is one of the best places for anxious patients to obtain comprehensive information on the safety and efficacy of endodontics and root canal treatment.

While plenty of good information is available online from the AAE and other reliable resources, patients sometimes arrive in the dental office with misinformation.

Misguided Research in the Early 1900s

This has occurred with the long-dispelled “focal infection theory” in endodontics, introduced in the early 1900s. In the 1920s, Dr. Weston A. Price presented research suggesting that bacteria trapped in dentinal tubules during root canal treatment could “leak” and cause almost any type of generative systemic disease (eg, arthritis, diseases of the kidney, heart, nervous, gastrointestinal, endocrine and other systems). This was before modern medicine, and at the time, doctors did not understand the causes of such disease.

Dr. Price advocated tooth extraction—the most traumatic dental procedure—over endodontic treatment. This theory resulted in a frightening era of tooth extraction both for treatment of systemic disease and as a prophylactic measure against future illness. Dr. Price’s research techniques were criticized at the time they were published, and by the early 1930s, a number of well-designed studies using more modern research techniques discredited his findings.

Endodontic Treatment Reaffirmed

Decades of research have contradicted Dr. Price’s findings since then. In 1951, the Journal of the American Dental Association published a special edition reviewing the scientific literature and shifted the standard of practice back to endodontic treatment for teeth with non-vital pulp in instances where the tooth could be saved. The JADA reviewed Dr. Price’s research techniques from the 1920s and noted that they lacked many aspects of modern scientific research, including the absence of proper control groups and the induction of excessive doses of bacteria.

Recent Endodontic Research

More recent research continues to support the safety of dental treatment as it relates to overall systemic health. In 2007, the American Heart Association updated its guidelines on the prevention of infective endocarditis, drastically curbing the indications for pre-medication for dental procedures and excluding endodontic treatment from dental procedures requiring premedication. In April 2012, the AHA found no scientific evidence linking periodontal disease and heart disease, concluding that heart disease and periodontal disease often coincidentally occur in the same person due to common risk factors of smoking, age, and diabetes mellitus.

Decades of research contradict the early beliefs of “focal infection” proponents. That is, there is no valid, scientific evidence linking endodontically treated teeth and systemic disease. Yet some patients still hear about this long-dispelled theory.

Contact Your Philadelphia Endodontist

By referring you to our office, your dentist has shown their concern that you receive the finest endodontic care possible. Our goal is to provide unsurpassed quality in a compassionate environment of professionalism and clinical excellence. We hope to exceed your expectations. If you have any questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rhome, we encourage you to contact us today. We look forward to helping you.

References

5 Rotten Root Canal Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

step by step root canal endodontic procedureDr. Barry Rhome is proud to provide a wide range of treatments to patients throughout the greater Philadelphia area. While we highly value preventative care at our practice, sometimes dental problems are unavoidable. If dental decay progresses to the point that it reaches the tooth root, root canals offer a highly effective solution. In fact, a root canal often allows us to save a tooth that would otherwise need to be replaced.

Top 5 Myths About Root Canals

You may have heard the phrase “I’d rather get a root canal” before. While it’s an amusing joke, the truth is that root canals aren’t nearly as uncomfortable as most people think. If you’ve heard any of these root canal myths, it’s time to debunk them once and for all.

Myth #1: Root Canals Are Painful

On the contrary, root canals help to prevent pain in the long-run. The root canal procedure is performed under local anesthesia, so patients feel almost nothing, and most patients experience only minor discomfort for a brief period following the procedure. In addition, we will provide nitrous oxide analgesia, if needed.

Myth #2: Root Canals Don’t Last

False. Root canals provide a stable, reliable, long-lasting solution for dental decay.They relieve patients’ toothaches and preserve the tooth indefinitely. To ensure success in the long run, a well-made and well-fit crown combined with good at-home oral care practices will help your tooth last a lifetime.

Myth #3: Root Canals Aren’t Better Than Tooth Extraction

While sometimes the only option is to extract a tooth, we try to avoid that whenever possible. It’s almost always preferable to keep your natural teeth, and a root canal lets you do just that.

Myth #4: Root Canals Aren’t Necessary If There’s No Tooth Pain

Unfortunately, toothaches aren’t always a reliable indicator for dental health. If a tooth root has died, it may not cause pain, but could still need a root canal.

Myth #5: Root Canals Make You Sick

This is one persistent myth that should be banished forever. The idea that root canals contribute to illness comes from poorly designed “research” that took place a century ago. Subsequent studies have conclusively proven that root canals do not cause illness and are a safe, effective dental procedure.

Schedule an Appointment with Your Philadelphia Endodontist

Despite what you may have heard, root canals offer a convenient, comfortable, and effective treatment for advanced dental decay. With nearly 40 years of experience, Dr. Rhome has performed over 30,000 endodontic procedures and is one of the top endodontists in the Philadelphia area. Contact us today to learn more about root canals and schedule your consultation appointment!