I’m wondering what the link between holistic dentistry and cancer is. I’m in remission and have been for about a year, but I want to be certain I’m doing everything I can be to stay cancer-free. I’m in a support group through my hospital, and one of the other participants introduced us to a movie that breaks down how root canals cause cancer. The only fix, once you’ve had a root canal, is to have the tooth removed. I’m thinking back to my own history and I did get a root canal about 10 years ago. Everything seemed fine at the time and I was glad to be able to keep my tooth, but now I’m wondering if the root canal caused my cancer and if it’s a ticking timebomb that will eventually bring it back. If I had seen a holistic dentist back then, would he have recommended that my tooth be pulled? And, is the trend now like the movie suggests— extractions of affected teeth recommended across the board?
I’m sorry for what you’ve been going through. I know it is a hard road. Either the information in the movie was giving false information or something got lost in translation. Though, there are some hard-core “natural medicine” proponents who do push this idea. Here’s where their argument comes from.
Proponents Argue Teeth with Endodontic Treatment Harbor Bacteria
In short, the argument against root canals, also referred to as endodontic treatment, is that they hold bacteria in. It’s kind of a twist on a half-truth. Yes, teeth that have infections and require endodontic treatment, as a result, do have bacteria. However, the canal is cleaned out as part of treatment. It’s sterilized and the canal is closed off and filled, so nothing can move in or out.
Additionally, our bodies always have some bacteria both good and bad. If we never had any bad bacteria our immune systems would never develop well and we’d be helpless victims the first time we encountered an illness. Without a strong immune system to fight it, we’d die.
The Center of the Controversy
A lot of the myths surrounding the dangers of root canals today come from old research by Weston Price. His research had lots of fundamental flaws, such as experiments that were poorly controlled and performed in non-sterile environments. Moreover, nobody has duplicated his results since then.
When a hypothesis is correct, the results can be duplicated. This is a basic tenant of science and medicine.
Current Research Shows People with Root Canals are Healthier
There’s lots of information to show root canals are beneficial. For example, one study found that people who had treatments like root canals have lower risk of certain cancers. Others have shown a link between root canals and reduced cardiovascular mortality.
Each Holistic Dentist is Different
While there are some holistic dentists who will opt for extractions over root canals, there are many who will do a root canal treatment when it is in the best interest of their patient.
There’s virtually no evidence to suggest it’s the right call, but some do it to appease their patients or for other reasons. Most today do not, and for a good reason. The holistic aspect relates to addressing whole body health. That means you do want to eliminate “unhealthy” bacteria, so treating infected teeth and maintaining oral health are paramount. But, at the same time, removing teeth needlessly will impact your ability to eat and oftentimes, confidence and self-esteem. The other option is to spend a fortune on a good tooth replacement, such as a dental implant. In other words, most are of the school of thought is that, given the current evidence, more harm comes from removing teeth than doing root canals.
All that said, you could still probably find someone to remove the tooth if you felt strongly about it despite the evidence, but it’s more likely the dentist would be doing it to soothe your worries or appease you rather than because he feels it’s necessary.
This blog is brought to you by West Seneca Dentist Dr. Warren Krutchick.