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The Safety of Root Canal Treatment: About Endodontic Treatment and Physical Health

“Dear doctor, I read on the Internet that root canals cause cancer. Is this true?” Some people have such doubts, Xiao Ya emphasizes here: root canal treatment will not cause cancer or any other diseases. The fact is that root canal treatment, which is performed at least tens of millions of times by skilled dental professionals worldwide every year, can stop infections and protect teeth, saving future dental expenses.

Here, Xiaoya recommends an article on the safety of root canal treatment by Dr. Marcus Johnson, an expert in endodontics in New York, USA. It can give the public a clear understanding of root canal treatment and take a closer look at what root canal treatment is and why it is needed. , And where these distrust theories come from.

Smile reveals your pearly white crown. But each tooth has one or more roots, which extend down into the bones under the gums. In addition, in the center of each tooth, there is a hollow space called “pulp cavity”, which contains living tissue (pulp). The nerves and blood vessels of the dental pulp pass through narrow spaces called canals that branch out from the pulp cavity and pass through the root tip. Once outside the teeth, they are connected to the rest of the body.

Now let us return to the pearly white tooth surface you can see. This is tooth enamel, the hardest substance in your body. It can protect teeth from damage. But sometimes a small hole (cavity) or crack is formed in the tooth enamel, allowing bacteria to enter and begin to erode the tooth. If left alone, these bacteria may reach the pulp tissue, causing tooth destruction, inflammation and pain.

If this inflammatory process remains untreated, the pulp tissue may die, leading to bacterial infection. Infections in the teeth can enter the surrounding tissues, bones and supporting structures through the root canal. This infection can cause painful mandibular abscesses, and in rare cases can be life-threatening. In some cases, the pain may eventually subside or disappear. Eliminating infections is necessary to protect your oral health and overall health.

There are only a few effective treatments for an infected tooth: you can open the tooth and get a “root canal”-what the dentist calls a pulp; or you can perform an apicoectomy, a small surgical procedure that includes Excise the infection from the root. Only endodontic treatment or apicoectomy can actually save the tooth.

Rescue infected teeth

Endodontic treatment involves removing the inflamed and diseased pulp tissue, disinfecting the tooth, and then sealing the cavity and ducts so that bacteria cannot enter it again. This needs to be done in a dental office, usually under local anesthesia. The tooth is then repaired with permanent filling materials and crowned to strengthen it. The root canal treatment can last for decades of proper care.

A dentist who specializes in this treatment is called an endodontist. After dentistry school, they go to professional school for two years or more to learn the most advanced technology, usually using micro instruments, microscopes and digital imaging.

Distrust theory

The root cause of the false assumption that root treatment can cause cancer is based on the false theory of a dentist named Weston Price in the early 20th century. He believes that leaving a “dead” organ in the body, in this case, teeth will cause many seemingly unrelated diseases. However, getting rid of dead tissue is exactly the purpose of root canal treatment-an important benefit of keeping teeth!

In 1951, the highly regarded Journal of the American Dental Association (an evidence-based publication) specifically revisited Dr. Price’s ideas. Not surprisingly, his conclusions did not meet the standards of modern scientific research and dental care. Since then, endodontic surgery has become the preferred method of treating salvageable infected teeth. It is also since then that advances in medical technology have made root canal treatment more predictable and successful than ever.

As for the specific cancer risk, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery) found that the cancer risk did not increase after root canal treatment in 2013. In fact, the study showed that the risk of cancer in dental patients with multiple endodontic treatments is reduced by 45%!

Of course, this is not to say that root canal treatment is without any risks-all medical procedures do. For example, although the success rate of root canal treatment is very high, there is a risk that it will not work the first time and the infection may recover. Soreness and numbness caused by local anesthesia are also potential risks.

However, tooth extraction also has risks, including infection, pain, numbness, and accidental damage to adjacent teeth. In addition, if you choose to do so, replacing the extracted teeth will increase costs.

this is your choice

The choice of whether to receive root canal treatment is limited to you. It is important to discuss all the risks and benefits with your endodontist or general dentist so that you can understand your choice. And in order to make an informed decision, you must have the latest evidence-based information-not the notoriously outdated theory. If you want to know more, please do not hesitate to ask your endodontist or general dentist. You can also visit the website of the Association of Endodontics for scientific and accurate information about root canal surgery.

The above is Marcus Johnson’s professional judgment. In addition, Xiaoya also discovered that we people have such a misunderstanding about root canal treatment in clinical practice. “You pulled out my dental nerve. Does it affect the brain?” He thought that nerves must be connected with the central brain system, which is a misunderstanding.

The nerves we usually refer to in dental outpatient treatment are only the pulp nerves, the nerves in the teeth, what does this nerve do? It feels more intense physical (such as hot and cold) and chemical (such as sweet and sour) stimulation. Under normal circumstances, this part of the nerve does not transmit obvious sensory signals to the brain. A tooth is an empty tube with nerves and blood vessels, arteries and veins.

The role of nerves is mainly to nourish the cells in our teeth to make dentin cells. The teeth are slightly worn out, and even during the long and natural accumulation into severe wear, they will be repaired through dentin hyperplasia. This is the protective mechanism of human teeth. In part in order to maintain the thickness of the teeth, the hard tissues of the teeth will grow a little, but this rate is limited, and the rate of increase becomes lower and lower with age. After the nerve is pulled out, this function is gone, leading to the loss of nutrition and metabolism of the tooth, and the tooth will become discolored and brittle. It doesn’t affect the feeling. We usually say that the upper tooth meets the lower tooth. This sensory nerve is not the pulpal nerve, but the periodontal nerve. The “pulp extraction” has no feeling for this feeling.

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