Root Canal Myths

Myth:  Root canal therapy causes illness

Truth –  Root canal therapy is a safe and effective procedure.

Research studies performed in the 1920’s and 1930’s and those conducted in later years showed no relationship between the presence of endodontically treated teeth and illness. Instead, researchers found that people with root canal fillings are no more likely to be ill than people without them.

However, over the past several years, a very small number of dentists and physicians have claimed that teeth that have received root canal (endodontic) therapy contribute to the occurrence of illness and disease. This claim is based on the outdated research performed by  Dr. Weston Price from 1910-1930 and his Focal Infection Theory. His research stated that bacteria trapped in teeth during root canal treatment can cause almost any type of disease, including arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, as well as diseases of other body systems like the nervous, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and other systems.

The presence of bacteria in teeth and the mouth has been an accepted fact for many years. But presence of bacteria does not constitute “infection” and is not necessarily a threat to a person’s health. Bacteria are present in the mouth and teeth at all times, even in teeth that have never had a cavity or other trauma.
Recent attempts to duplicate the research and Dr. Price’s results were unsuccessful. Researchers now believe that the earlier findings were caused by poor sanitation and imprecise research techniques that were common in the early 1900s.

Recent evidence based research studies support the fact – that teeth that with proper endodontic therapy do not cause illness.

For more information, please refer to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) Fact Sheet on the Focal infection Theory:

Myth:  A good alternative to root canal therapy is pulling the tooth.

Truth –  Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is the best option.

Nothing can completely replace your natural tooth. An artificial tooth sometimes causes you to avoid certain foods. Keeping your own teeth is important so that you can continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods necessary to maintain the proper nutrient balance in your diet.

Endodontic therapy, along with an appropriate restoration, is a cost-effective way to treat teeth with a damaged pulp and is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of a bridge or an implant.

Endodontic therapy also has a very high success rate. Many root canal treated teeth last a lifetime.

Additionally, placement of a bridge or an implant will require significantly more time in treatment and may result in further procedures and/or damage to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues.

Millions of healthy endodontically treated teeth serve patients all over the world, years and years after treatment. These healthy teeth are helping patients chew efficiently, maintain the natural appearance of their smiles and enhance their enjoyment of life. Through endodontic therapy, endodontists and dentists worldwide enable patients to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.