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Posts for tag: root canal treatment


Every year U.S. dentists perform around 25 million root canal treatments and save countless teeth from the ravages of decay. But if you search "root canal" on the Internet, you might encounter an unsettling charge against this tooth-saving treatment—that it causes cancer.

Root canal treatments are routinely used when tooth decay has infected the pulp, the innermost layer of a tooth. During the procedure, we access the pulp and remove all the infected tissue. We then fill the empty pulp and root canals, seal the access hole and later crown the tooth to prevent further infection. Without this intervention, the decay can continue to advance toward the roots and supporting bone, putting the tooth in imminent danger of loss.

So, is there any credibility to this claim that root canal treatments cause cancer? In a word, no: there's no evidence of any connection between root canal treatments and cancer—or any other disease for that matter. On the contrary: root canals stop disease.

As with other types of urban legends and internet hype, the root canal-cancer connection may have arisen from another discredited idea from the early 20th Century. A dentist named Weston Price promoted the notion that leaving a "dead" organ in the body led to health problems. From his perspective, a root canaled tooth with its removed pulp tissue fit this criterion.

In the mid-1950s, dentistry thoroughly examined Dr. Weston's theory pertaining to treatments like root canals. The Journal of the American Dental Association devoted an entire issue to it and found after rigorous scientific inquiry that the theory had no validity in this regard. Another study in 2013 confirmed those findings. In fact, the later study instead found that patients who underwent a root canal treatment had a 45 percent reduction in oral cancer risk.

Given the freewheeling nature of the Internet, it's best to speak with a dental professional about your oral health before trusting a post or article you've found online. Not only are they more informed than an unverified online source, they would certainly not knowingly subject you to a procedure to save a tooth at the expense of your health.

If you would like more information on root canal treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Root Canal Safety.”

By John M Burns DDS
October 24, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Learn more about root canal therapy and the symptoms that might be warning you of a problem.root canal

Sure, it isn’t always possible to know when there are issues with your smile. After all, not everyone experiences symptoms when gum disease or decay is lurking. This is why it’s so important to visit our Hingham, MA, general dentist, Dr. John Burns, for routine cleanings and exams. Sometimes these visits are the only way we are able to catch a problem during its earliest stages. Of course, if you are experiencing symptoms you may be wondering what’s going on and whether it might warrant root canal treatment.

Are you experiencing these dental issues?

Tooth pain: A toothache is not something to ignore. Think about it: your body doesn’t typically elicit pain without a reason, right? If your tooth is throbbing, aching or just being a royal pain this is your best warning sign that you need to visit our Hingham dentist. While dental pain doesn’t necessarily mean you need root canal treatment, we will need to figure out what’s causing the pain and treat it accordingly. Either way, a toothache is considered a dental emergency so act fast!

Sensitivity: Have you suddenly noticed that anytime you sip from your steaming cup of coffee or eat ice cream that one of your teeth suddenly seems sensitive to it? Does the sensitivity linger? Like a toothache, sensitivity can also be caused by a myriad of things but it’s important that you seek medical care if you experience this symptom.

Darkening of the tooth: If you have ignored your tooth’s warning signs so far then eventually the root canals may die. When this happens the roots darken, leading to a dark or discolored tooth.

Gum problems: Sometimes the gums even begin to protest. Maybe you’ve noticed that along with that annoying toothache that the gums surrounding the tooth are also puffy, red or sore to the touch.

Don’t fear a root canal. Remember that this treatment could get your oral health back on track. Protect your beautiful smile by getting the dental treatment you need from our dentist right here in Hingham, MA. Call us today!



Tooth decay can wreak more havoc than just producing cavities. It can work its way into the innermost parts of the tooth — the pulp and tiny passageways called root canals that lead to the tooth's connection with the bone.

If that happens, you'll need more than “drilling and filling.” Without intervention, your tooth could be lost. That intervention is a root canal treatment, a procedure that removes the infection from within the tooth and preserves it from re-infection.

You've probably heard the old belief that root canal treatments are painful. With modern anesthetic techniques to deaden pain, that's not true. In fact, root canal treatments stop the pain caused by infected nerves within the pulp and root canals. More importantly, it saves your tooth.

Root canals can be performed by a general dentist. More extensive decay or complex root canal networks may require the services of an endodontist, a dentist who specializes in root canal anatomy and treatments. Endodontists have advanced techniques and equipment to handle even the most difficult case.

Regardless of who performs it, the basic procedure is the same, as is the goal: to completely remove all diseased tissue within the tooth and seal it with a special filling to prevent re-infection. To access the diseased pulp, we first drill an access hole, usually in the biting surface of a back tooth or the back of a front tooth. We then use specialized instruments to remove the infected tissue and flush out the space with antibacterial solutions.

We then insert a filling called gutta percha into the empty pulp chamber and root canals, seal off the filling with adhesive cement, and close the access hole with filling. These fillings and sealants prevent bacteria from reentering the tooth. For added protection against infection and fracturing, we also recommend placing a full-coverage dental crown. This also enhances the appearance of the tooth, which must be modified during the root canal procedure.

The end result: your once endangered tooth has been preserved for hopefully many years to come. So if we recommend you undergo a root canal treatment, don't wait — the tooth you save may be your own.

If you would like more information on root canal treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

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