Are root canals killing us?

I had to get a root canal this week, since I try to get informed before any medical procedure, I looked i up on the internet. Apparently, according to some websites of uncertain credibility, root canals can cause from cancer to diabetes. One such website is this: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/18/dangers-of-root-canaled-teeth.aspx (notice the connection to anti-vax and anti-fluor organizations).

You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t take his word for it. So, what’s the Straight Dope? Will a root canal do more harm than good?

There’s yer answer.

Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

It’s not a clock. If you don’t get a root canal you need to have the tooth pulled. Otherwise you could die from an infection. Take your chances if you want and leave the rotten tooth in.

Well, I do have diabetes, but I don’t have cancer, so as long as you only have one root canal, you’ve got a 50/50 chance.

mercola is not a web site of uncertain credibility.

Read the arguments carefully. Don’t be swayed by posters anywhere who yell “Quack”.

Here’s a fluoride study that shows the relationship between fluoridated water and
calcification of arteries quoted from the journal* Toxicology*

You know, anthropologists have been digging up skulls for centuries that show evidence that people use to sometimes die from infected teeth. Die horrible, painful deaths.

Do you want to die now, from an abscessed tooth, or take a chance you might get a disease 10 or 20 years down the line? Because, worst case, that’s the choice you face.

But in reality, NO, root canals do not cause diabetes or cancer, You said yourself the source of that information was of uncertain credibility, so why believe it? Ditto the bit about fluoridated water - which, by the way, helps prevent root canals.

That quack sites sometimes use actual science does not mean they’re not quacky. If the available arguments are found on quack sites they’re indubitably cherry picked and “reading them carefully” is not going to tell you so.

Regarding water fluorididation:

“One study published in the fall of 2012 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found a link between high fluoride levels found naturally in drinking water in China and elsewhere in the world, and lower IQs in children. The paper looked at the results of 27 different studies, 26 of which found a link between high-fluoride drinking water and lower IQ. The average IQ difference between high and low fluoride areas was 7 points, the study found.”

link to the study:

“It is often claimed that fluoridated water is the main reason the United States has had a large decline in tooth decay over the past 60 years. This same decline in tooth decay, however, has occurred in all developed countries, most of which have never added any fluoride to their water. Today, according to data from the World Health Organization, there is no discernible difference in tooth decay between the minority of developed countries that fluoridate water, and the majority that do not.”

Caveats from the study:

I wouldn’t panic just yet.

Also, just one study. Any finding needs to be confirmed by independent groups attempting to replicate the findings.

Meanwhile, lots of studies finding fluoridation is harmless at the concentrations normally used for purposes of public health.

As someone else pointed out already, cherry-picking does not make for good science.

Would like to point out that brushing/cleaning your teeth at all will help prevent cavities and root canals, and toothbrushes are a heck of a lot more common than they were 100 years ago. You have to factor that into any studies.

Just to be clear, the most recently quoted study is a meta-study.

Meta studies aren’t magical. How sound were the studies used for the meta study? How many studies?

Mercola is the poster child for websites of uncertain credibility. It’s what they aspire to be.

Don’t use the internet for medical advice. EVER!

If it’s a legitimate medical journal published at a .edu accredited medical university site you could bother reading it, and then maybe asking your doctor about the information. Still do NOT mention the word ‘internet’ to him/her or they will dismiss your questions out of hand. Doctors are busy people and they’re not going to waste one second on someone they think is a kook.

They aspire to be money making operations that prey on the fears and ignorance of their target audience and depend on the absolute lack of morals of their founders.

Uncertain credibility would be a quantum improvement.

Anyone else feeling deja vu-ish?

No one said they were. They are, however, potentially better evidence than “just one study”. This one included 27 studies and I’ve already included the authors’ caveats about study quality above.

People, I wasn’t born yesterday! I said I **had[/] to have a root canal. It’s done, 4 days ago. I could not find any credible site that repeated these concerns. Furthermore, I am having a root canal after a tooth broke up in half exposing the inside of my tooth, this due to severe decalcification for lack of vitamin D that is being addressed as we speak.

With that clarified, just because a chorus of ducks quack on the internet doesn’t mean that somebody somewhere hasn’t raised a legitimate concern that I couldn’t find. I just wanted to know, and give you the heads up that I didn’t find anything myself, but then again, I am not a medical professional, which is why I saw one before asking the Dope. You’ll all excuse me for consulting a doctor first. :slight_smile: