In view of a number of recent queries following the publication of a movie called ‘RootCause’, I find it necessary to address some of the questions raised.
This, so-called ‘documentary’, as well as other media and internet factions are actively trying to portray Dentistry as a pseudo-science and a profession that has distanced itself from Medicine, ignoring sound scientific facts. Some go so far as to say Dental professionals view teeth as ‘not connected to the rest of the body’ and that Oral diseases ‘have no impact on systemic health’. Not only is this totally untrue, it is causing untold harm to millions of people, often in desperate need of treatment. Dentistry, as all aspects of Medicine is constantly advancing. The last 10 years in particular has seen enormous strides being made in technology, digital imaging, magnification, insights into pathology and, crucially, healing processes.
Many claims are being made about, in particular Root Canal treatment and the possible detrimental impact it may have on systemic health. Some use it as a blanket cause for any and all illnesses ranging from chronic fatigue, MS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart attacks and many more. Most of these claims are based on very much long disproven theories and claims.In addition to this, most of the so-called ‘experts’ quoted are very much questionable in their respective professional capacities, quoting unproven theories, and misinterpreting actual valid science. The following articles are worth reading, shedding more light on the factual flaws in these claims:
However, as scientists and doctors, it would be irresponsible to just brush negative claims off and it is necessary to take heed and look at the facts. Teeth form an integral part of the human body with Oral Health being elemental in overall health and wellbeing. Many systemic diseases such as Diabetes, Lupus and many others often present in the mouth first. Recent groundbreaking research has established a possible link between oral infections and cardiovascular disease(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23418311). It is clear that the one thing everyone is in agreement about, is that Oral diseases and chronic infections should be eliminated.
Anatomically, teeth consist of an outer layer of Enamel, a softer core of Dentine and an inside Pulp chamber, containing nerve-endings, blood vessels and connective tissue. Teeth are anchored in the jaw bone by a complex system of connective tissue called the Periodontal Ligament which is also the main source of blood supply for an adult tooth. In a developing tooth the Pulp chamber is quite large with ample blood vessels and nerve endings. As we age, more and more dentine forms on the inside of the tooth and the pulp chamber shrinks, gradually decreasing the internal blood supply, with the pulp tissue becoming less and less important for function and often being partially, or even completely obliterated from adult teeth.
Endodontics, which include Root Canal treatment, is the field of Dentistry that focusses on treating problems related to the inside of a tooth. The aim of this is to prevent and eliminate infection that can stem from damaged pulp tissue. This is achieved by removing any dead or infected tissue inside the root canal system, disinfect the root canal space properly and to then seal this in order to prevent further infection. In many instances this goes hand in hand with an additional restoration for the outer, visible part of the tooth.
Like any medical procedure, Endodontictreatmentis based on extremely detailed and thoroughly investigated science that has now reached the point of molecular DNA analysis of pathogens and healing processes. With advances in digital imaging, it is possible to have an intricately detailed understanding of the anatomy of the Endodontic system of any tooth requiring treatment, before anything is done. With the use of Surgical Operating Microscopes, it is possible to see this anatomy clinically while the procedure is performed, eliminating uncertainties. Advances in instruments allow us to predictably deliver disinfecting agents and make use of equipment such as lasers to eliminate pathogens and create a sterile space. Using bioactive materials to seal this space, it is possible to initiate tissue healing and growth whilst simultaneously having an antimicrobial effect. And, crucially, we have the ability, again with 3D digital imaging, to follow up on treatments to confirm healing. If performed to these exacting standards, Endodontic treatment has been proven to successfully eliminate and prevent infections, being one of the most predictable treatment options we have. With decades of scientific data, there is no question that it works.