Do Root Canals Cause Cancer? Debunking Out-Dated Information

Due to a Netflix documentary released, some patients are asking the safety and validity of root canals, and their possible connection to cancer. According to, Scott Froum DDS, and Omar Ikram MRD, BDS, FRACDS, have attempted to debunk the accusations made on three levels.

Focal Infection Theory is false

The problem begins with a theory created by a dentist in 1922, when Dr. Weston Price devised the Focal Infection Theory. “The true science behind root canals and the techniques used to treat apical periodontitis were not developed until 1965 (45 years later). Because the etiology of apical periodontitis was unknown 100 years ago, root canal treatments were highly variable, no protocols were established, and cannot be compared to those performed today.” The theory is found to be flawed due to lack of control groups, bias and poor experimental design.

Cause and effect

In the documentary, an osteopathic physician claimed that 97% of terminal cancer patients (breast cancer) previously had root canal procedures.  “The problem with this rationale is that the highest incidence of women with breast cancer are in the age range of 50-75. Similarly, the age range that exhibits the highest prevalence of root canal-treated teeth are in this same age range,” says Dr. Froum. In essence, he points out, that statement is equivalent to saying 97% of the people who had breast cancer had skin wrinkles so wrinkles cause cancer!

Oral-systemic connection

Many studies over the recent years have begun connecting oral health and overall health. Chronic inflammation in the mouth, periodontal disease, is linked to diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and some cancers. Meaning that, by treating periodontitis, dangerous bacteria from the mouth is reduced or removed altogether, reducing the chances of more complicated health issues.

At C R Dental Group, Dr. James Reisman  and Dr. Jordana Contrucci remind patients that untreated dental disease can lead to some very serious health problems. Dentistry has come a long way over the last few decades and saving teeth, opposed to extracting, has proven to promote overall health. Root canal therapy can be a key component to treating an infected tooth, keeping it exactly where it was intended to be.