Our conservative approach
to root canals

Root canal therapy is a procedure that may be recommended if the nerve of a tooth is infected (from decay), dead (from trauma), or has become hyperactive (from decay or trauma).

Spoiler alert: we don’t believe every patient actually NEEDS a root canal.  If a tooth has become hyperactive but no decay is present, sometimes that lingering tooth discomfort can be addressed with more conservative options.

Additionally, almost all root canal therapy can be avoided by:

  • Addressing decay before it reaches the nerve, including decay around older restorations
  • Attending to any force-related issues (clenching & grinding) to avoid unnecessary trauma damaging the nerve
  • Managing occlusal forces (bite balance) before and after any restorative dentistry is completed

Even in the best circumstances, a root canal treated tooth has a shorter lifespan than a natural tooth with a live and healthy nerve and is at risk for future infection and failure.  Because of that fact, we make sure to rule out all other effective and conservative options prior to recommending root canal therapy as an option.  If root canal therapy has been completed it is imperative that the tooth is monitored with 3D imaging regularly to ensure it is remaining healthy.

Second opinions for root canals: 3-D imaging

Advancements in dental imaging have made diagnostics much safer and simpler for evaluating the need for root canal therapy and ensuring prior root canal treated teeth are not harboring chronic infection.

At Downtown Dental we use low dose 3D CBCT imaging to ensure root canal therapy is actually necessary and to monitor the health root canal treated teeth. The images deliver incredible accuracy with very minimal radiation.  Should root canal therapy actually be recommended, 3D imaging improves the success rate of the procedure by allowed the specialist to clearly see all root canals in the tooth.

3D technology allows endodontic diagnostics and treatments to be done more safely and accurately.  This new technology:
  • Prevents unnecessary endodontic procedures
  • Allows the doctor to see chronic infection not able to be seen with traditional 2D imaging
  • Makes root canal therapy more effective and safe

If you are looking for a second opinion on root canal therapy, or you have prior root canal treated teeth that need to be evaluated for chronic infection, contact our office for a consultation.

Do root canals cause cancer?

You may have heard about the documentary called “Root Cause”, which makes eye-popping claims about how cancer, heart conditions and other serious illnesses are caused by asymptomatic infections inside root canals or in the empty spaces left behind after a wisdom tooth extraction. Bacteria and other toxins, the film argues, fester in the jaw and then travel to other organs along “meridian lines”, which according to traditional Chinese medicine move life force throughout the body, spreading infection and causing cancer and other illnesses to take root.

There aren’t any studies that show people who get root canals have a higher risk of cancer. In fact, research on the link between cancer and endodontic procedures like root canals shows that people who have had these treatments have a lower risk of certain cancers.

The danger of these claims is that these fears can crowd out other real cancer risks or health concerns, including smoking, weight gain, and failing to get the right cancer screening tests on time.  To be blunt, even if there is some truth to this whole idea, your old root canal is probably not harming your body nearly as much as your bleeding gums, cigarette smoking, or undiagnosed sleep disorder. Illness is cumulative, so it’s important to focus on the bigger concerns first when working towards optimal health and well-being.

HOWEVER, there is one very important thing that the documentary ‘Root Cause’ gets right!  There are many patients walking around with active infection in their tooth roots and bone who have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA that there is any problem whatsoever.  We know this is true because we have advanced 3D imaging that allows us to routinely see infections in the tooth and bone that simply cannot be seen in traditional 2D dental imaging.

Because of this, we have been able to help countless patients get rid of active infection in their body quickly and easily.  The first step to health is an accurate and actionable diagnosis.

Bottom Line: The most important thing is that you find a provider that you trust who will help you navigate through all the conflicting information out there, and who will have an in-depth understanding of your individual circumstances in order to provide you customized advice on how to get and stay healthy.