Do Root Canals cause Health Problems ?

Do Root Canals cause Health Problems – People are unaware that oral health is one of the indicators of systemic health of an individual. It is a two-way street and hence it can be stated that a person’s systemic health can be evaluated by diagnosing his/her oral health. A healthy oral cavity has evidence of bacteria which under normal circumstances are in control. When this equilibrium is lost due to poor oral hygiene or other predisposing factors, it causes infections. Root canals are made up of soft tissue element known as the pulp. The pulp lies beneath the enamel and dentin.

When the infection in the soft tissue (pulp) manifests, root canal treatment is indicated by the dentist. Infection elevates sensitivity due to the presence of nerves in the pulp. Patient usually complains of sensitivity to hot/cold/sweet foods or beverages. The condition is evaluated on the basis of symptoms and radiographs to ascertain whether the tooth can be saved by the root canal treatment or it needs to be extracted as in case of irreversible damage to the pulp.

When it comes to systemic health, one may say that it is responsive to the bacteria in the oral cavity. Hence, it may be held accountable as a risk to certain systemic disease. But there is hardly any evidence proving that oral infection cause systemic diseases.

The root canal treatment is aimed to remove this infected necrotic/decayed tissue, clean it and restore to rehabilitate normal function of the tooth. There is always a pattern which leads to such dental conditions. At the top of the list is always the life style (poor oral hygiene, high sugar diets, soft drinks, etc. we build. It can also be occupational (boxing, hockey, etc.) or habitual (bruxism).

Do Root Canals cause Health Problems

 The infection cannot be termed as acute as there are many factors that may cause infection in the pulp. To name a few:

Infection not limited to enamel and dentine

  • Injury to the tooth/trauma
  • Dental caries
  • Faulty or multiple dental procedure
  • Periodontitis
  • Age related tooth decay


Any of these factors cause infection/inflammation which leads to chronic pain experience by patients as the pulp contains nerves.

Further, in case of acute infections there may be evidence of swollen lymph nodes. The patient may experience fever due to infection.

It is never wise to leave any infection un-operated for long as it may spread to neighboring structures to cause more and irreversible damage. If left untreated, it may cause extensive pain, cause swelling and abscesses. It may also lead to bone loss and hence loss of structure and normal function.

Root canal treatment in itself doesn’t create any health problems. On the contrary, it preserves the function of the tooth and puts a stop to the spreading of infection. Moreover, root canal treatments don’t have contraindications and patients with controlled symptoms can also undergo this procedure.

Precautions are always taken by the dentist by knowing the patient’s past medical and dental history along with any medications to get the best results. Severe cases (uncontrolled) of systemic diseases (diabetes, tuberculosis, syphilis, etc.) are advised extraction with course of medication.

 Many a times we are left wondering questions like:

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 Can a tooth infection cause cancer ?

We live in a society where myths and reality have blurred linings. Hence, it becomes difficult to separate them, especially when it comes to subjects like these. Everyone is entitled to opinion and that creates the maximum noise when it comes to authenticity.

There are no studies or facts enough to establish a very concrete foundation to portray tooth infection as a cause to cancer.

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Again, there exist other opinioned group who believe in existence of relationship between tooth infection and cancer. There exists information where in studies have been conducted to study decayed tooth to understand how it works to connect tooth decaying bacteria to cancer.

 Root canal treatment side effects: – 

There always another side of the coin. As for the root canal treatment, one may say if the treatment does not go as planned due to errors on part of the dentist, it may fail, and the symptoms may return.

It may happen due to many reasons. The infected pulp was not removed completely, inability to conveniently drain the canal due to canal shape, perforation of canal due to faulty procedure, faulty restoration technique, all this can result in reoccurrence of infection or failure of the procedure. A broken tooth can also mean aborting the treatment. A blurry radiograph or ill developed radiograph can hamper the treatment plan too. It may fail to show complete structure of the canal or miss one/more canals which can further cause an error during treatment.


If failure happens, the dentist can evaluate the damage and decide as to operate again or extract the tooth. Many a times, it happens that patient experience excruciating pain even after administration of anesthesia. Under such circumstances, the only option left is to stop the treatment and wait for the antibiotics and analgesics to do its work and try again. If the same situation persists, extraction is indicated.

A certain group still believes that root canal treatment is the passageway to introducing harmful bacteria that may cause degenerative changes to the oral and systemic environment of human body. There is no evidence to prove this.

Prevention is always better than cure. If prevented, we can only hope for better oral experience in this lifetime. It is basic but being a dentist, I cannot more by saying the general rules:

  • Brush twice and
  • Floss regularly

Brushing technique holds as much importance. Faulty techniques do more damage than good even when you brush twice. To become aware and gain knowledge about what is best for your teeth and oral cavity can save you those dreaded dental visits. Even so, regular dental checkups are must to prevent any dental condition in future.

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