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  • Writer's pictureThe Tooth Doctors

The Root Cause

By Dr. Robert Wong


Hope you are all making it through the winter; the good news is that spring is just

around the corner!

Not sure if anyone has watched or even heard of a Netflix movie called Root Cause,

but it is the story of one man’s battle with chronic fatigue that he says is caused by a

root canalled tooth.

WARNING! Movie Trailer contains: offensive language & nudity. Not suitable for all audiences.

The documentary attempts to shed light on the risks of root canal therapy and how it pertains to medical diseases such as heart attacks, cancers and endocrine disorders among other diseases. They use sensationalized numbers such as 100% of heart attacks have a direct link with root canals or that 80% of breast cancer patients have a root canal on the same side as the cancer. While these numbers seem eye-catching, the quality of the research studies is quite poor when compared to the gold standard of a double-blind, randomized controlled study.

The conclusions drawn from the studies are very simplistic.

Basically, they took a look at how many people were afflicted with the disease and how many of them have had a root canal, and making a causal link between root canal treatment and disease. Put another way, it can be assumed that 100% of patients with disease X also drank water, so water is the cause of disease X. This may sound silly when using water, but it is the same example the movie used for heart attacks or breast cancer and root canals.

I’m not here to say root canal therapy doesn’t have drawbacks and risks, because it does, but it is not as radical and sensationalized as the movie portrayed. Current research based evidence of root canal therapy indicates that they are approximately 80% successful, meaning 20% of all root canal teeth ‘fail.’ While watching Root Cause, they showed an X-ray of the man’s root canalled tooth and it was obvious to me that there was residual infection associated with the root canal. Was there an issue with the root canal, most dentists would agree there is; was the failing root canal the cause of his chronic health issues? I’m not sure and I’m inclined to say probably not solely the cause of it, but I do agree that infection anywhere in the body, including teeth and jaws, can cause problems, both locally in the mouth and generally in the body. There is a mouth-body connection that has been established for several years.

Root Cause, the documentary uses simplistic studies to substrate their claims

At the end of the day, I feel that the ‘documentary’

Root Cause was made to sensationalize and radicalize root canal therapy and there is significant lack of proper research and evidence to substantiate their claims.

Root canal therapy can still be used as a viable treatment option for most people. As always, there are risks with any medical procedure and I advise you to speak to your dentist or health care professional for proper advice!

Look forward to seeing everyone in the office or around town as the weather starts

to become nicer!

Editors Note: A root canal is a procedure where the dentist will first use antibiotics to remove the infection from your tooth, and then later remove the nerves that cause you pain and will continue to do so until either the nerve or tooth is removed. In many cases, a root canal is preferable and less invasive than removing the tooth.

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