Are root canals safe? The truth behind the cancer claims

Root canals are a type of severe tooth infection,  most often caused by an untreated cavity. The resulting infection can cause significant pain and damage if not treated. 

Root canal surgery is a frequently performed dental procedure which is often a necessary surgery done to preserve a tooth that is severely infected and decayed. 

Root canals have occurred in patients for centuries, however, in recent years, they have sparked some controversy. 

Can Root Canals Cause Cancer? 

The claim in recent years is that root canals can eventually cause cancerous tissues to form in the affected tooth and jaw. When a patient has a root canal infection, there is bacteria within the root of their tooth. 

This delicate tooth root connects to the nerves in your mouth. The concern is that the bacteria causing root canals release toxins into the body that eventually find their way into your bloodstream. These toxins spread throughout the body and allegedly can become cancerous.

The Truth About Root Canals and Cancer

Although the above claim may seem logical, the truth is that there is not enough evidence to say that root canals directly cause cancer. In fact, patients who get treated by their dentist and have root canal surgery most often have a full recovery and can still use their tooth like normal. 

There are certainly types of cancer that do originate in the mouth, and it is important to maintain proper oral health in order to prevent this. However, the Canadian Cancer Society has disproved the idea that root canals cause cancer. 

Root canals are significant infections though, and it’s important to be aware of the treatment options available to patients in order to help treat root canals quickly. 

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The Root Canal Surgery Procedure 

Root canal surgery is normally done as a day surgery. Patients will only require local anesthetic and numbing for this procedure. 

When a patient has a root canal infection, the gum tissue and nerve root of the tooth become inflamed and filled with bacteria. Your dentist will remove this bacteria, along with the tooth's nerve root, in order to promote healing. 

Your dentist will drill a small hole into the affected tooth and use specialized tools to remove the dead and infected areas from the tooth. Once clear, the area is carefully sanitized and then filled and sealed. This prevents any future bacteria from entering the tooth. 

This procedure is fairly quick and takes no more than 1-3 hours. This is also the only way to preserve your tooth after a root canal infection. Root canal surgery is the best way to preserve the existing tooth. 

Symptoms of a Root Canal

Root canals can sometimes be confused with regular cavities. It’s important to go to the dentist, even if your symptoms feel minor. 

  • Fever 
  • Red, infected gums 
  • Sharp pain in one or more teeth 
  • White pus seeping from gums 
  • Blood along the gum-line 
  • Pain when biting, speaking or chewing 
  • Inability to sleep due to pain

Root canals are hard to ignore. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, go to a dentist for emergency treatment. 

What Happens If I Don’t Get Root Canal Surgery? 

The problems that arise when a patient doesn't get root canal surgery are far more severe than the procedure itself. 

Although a patient will not get cancer from leaving a root canal untreated, they can have a variety of other illnesses and problems as a result. An untreated root canal can lead to: 

  • Abscess 
  • Spread to other parts of the mouth 
  • Sepsis, which is life threatening 
  • Heart problems and infections 
  • Weakens your immune system 

Unfortunately, contrary to popular belief, a root canal cannot heal on its own. It is a dental emergency and can leave patients in significant pain if not treated promptly.  

Is There an Alternative to Root Canal Surgery? 

For those who cannot have surgery, there is an alternative. Your dentist can perform a tooth extraction to completely remove the tooth and tooth root from your mouth. This may happen in more severe cases, for example, if the root canal was left too long without treatment. 

Losing a tooth due to infection can be a traumatic experience, but there are many options for tooth replacement after this fast procedure. And losing a tooth is far better than becoming sick from a root canal. 

Visit Glen Dental Centre in Coquitlam, BC 

If you are experiencing symptoms of a root canal, do not wait. Call the team at Glen Dental Centre and get out of pain. 

Our caring and dedicated team will make sure you feel at ease and comfortable with your treatment plan. Our experienced dentists can help to answer any of your questions or concerns before root canal surgery, in order to be sure you feel safe and ready before proceeding. 

Root canals do not cause cancer, but they are incredibly harmful to the body when they are left untreated. Click the link to connect with our team and get back to feeling like yourself. 


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