With the rise of technology comes the ease of the expression of social influences and ideals. It is so easy to hop on the web and find many factoids about any given topic. The question we should ask ourselves is how true is this information that people are posting and that we may be considering subscribing to? We encounter many patients who have concerns about potential harmful effects of root canal therapy. Patients express concern that they have read online that endodontic treatment can be related to various diseases and syndromes. On the contrary, when endodontic treatment is performed properly it is a healing treatment.   It is a treatment that helps to eliminate inflammation and / or infection and helps maintain a tooth in dental function.

Root canal therapy has been controversial for years. Many will be surprised to know that evidence of the first root canal treatment dates back to 200 B.C. when a bronze wire was placed in a tooth of a soldier by ancient Egyptians. Some centuries after this, more evidence was found that people began draining teeth to relieve pain and pressure and even went into removing and covering the pulp. This process went into the late 1600’s and is very similar to the techniques we use today.

With time, the structure and anatomy of the root canal system was better understood and many advancements were made to “perfect” this treatment process. Leading into the 1900’s, the x-ray machine was born. This gave people a better understanding of the process they had been performing for years. However, with more proof comes more questions and new ideas.

A group of dentists during the 1920’s insisted that all pulpless teeth be removed regardless of whether the tooth and bone structure seemed normal or not. They were known as the “hundred percenters.” This group thought that by removing even healthy teeth, they could control bacteria from entering the bloodstream and promote overall health for the person. Individuals belonging to this group published many works trying to prove their theory to be correct, however, science and facts disproved them time and time again. People in mass became educated that bacteria are actually beneficial to the body. By the 1950’s some of these “hundred percenters” accepted this and even began endodontically treating teeth rather than strictly extracting them.

In today’s day in time, root canals have advanced in so many ways. However, because of these dated ideas, many people are building new theories off of them. This is where the internet comes in to play in influencing people that there exists a “danger” related to modern root canal treatment. Many people believe still today that having a root canal procedure done will cause many autoimmune diseases and various forms of cancer. This myth is absolutely false. Our next blog entry in this four-part series will be posted next week. We will then go more in depth and take a deeper look into the history behind endodontics.