A colleague recently sent me a link to a blog post with this sensational headline: "97% of Terminal Cancer Patients Previously Had This Dental Procedure...." They had me, even though I knew the source was an online general health resource that rails against fluoride and amalgam.
Here's the basic premise, above and beyond this statistic (most often attributed to the anecdotal reporting of Dr. Josef Issels, infamous for his controversial alternative cancer therapies). Root-filled teeth have demonstrated to promote the growth of and harbor numerous toxic bacteria, particularly around the apex and periodonal ligament.
The language is deliberately ominous and fear-inducing. For example, "Under the stresses of oxygen and nutrient deprivation [within an endodontically-treated tooth], formerly friendly organisms morph into stronger, more virulent anaerobes that produce a variety of potent toxins. What were once ordinary, friendly oral bacteria mutate into highly toxic pathogens lurking in the tubules of the dead tooth, just awaiting an opportunity to spread." Well, it IS Halloween week.
Anyway, the post goes on to outline the history of the research on the subject and concludes that the only way to remove the risk is to remove the tooth. Better yet, don't have a root canal in the first place. Again, hard-line verbage: "Risking your health to preserve a tooth simply doesn?t make sense."
And then, of course, always something for the conspiracy theorists--and the satisfying greed element. "Could there be another reason so many dentists, as well as the ADA and the AAE, refuse to admit root canals are dangerous? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, there is. Root canals are the most profitable procedure in dentistry."
So just the messenger here....chances are some of your patients will pick up on this as local media and other information sources troll for "health panic" stories. Be prepared for questions.
And as always, if you're reading the post, don't miss the reader comments at the bottom. Always the best part.