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Debunking the Root Cause Netflix Documentary

Netflix is a never-ending stream of comedy, drama, and adventure. With new shows appearing weekly, some will naturally fly under the radar. But if Netflix thought the documentary Root Cause would go unnoticed by endodontists, they were mistaken.

This film follows the life of a young man after he undergoes extensive dental work, including a root canal. Afterward, he is plagued for years by insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, and more. Searching for the cause of his pain, he links it back to his dental work. The documentary features “scientists” and “doctors” spouting compelling fallacies that will have viewers running from their dentists.

The documentary would have you believe that root canals readily allow bad bacterium to enter the rest of the body, leading directly to cancer, atherosclerosis, and a host of other diseases. However, this is based on research done by Dr. Weston Price—in the 1920s. Back then, polio and measles were still widely spread, and root canals were done without local anesthetic. Since that time, science has advanced tremendously, and Dr. Price’s research has been discredited.

Using nearly 100-year-old discredited literature for the basis of a documentary is irresponsible. Root canal procedures have changed during the last century. At Central Ohio Endodontics we use microscopes, rotary files, and irrigation adjuncts. This state-of-the-art technology disinfects the root canal, removes infection, and saves your tooth.

The documentary also offers a number of half-truths and well-spun facts. Dr. Dawn Ewing asserts that “98% of women with breast cancer have had a root canal on the same side as the cancer.” However, the documentary fails to explain the difference between association and causality.

In other words, the same 98% of women with breast cancer may also have eaten bread in their lifetime, but no one can prove eating bread is the cause of the disease. Highlighting that many women with breast cancer also have a history of a root canals does not indicate causality; rather, it suggests an association. The documentary incorrectly implies that root canals cause cancer and unfortunately, this may deter patients who need endodontic treatment from seeking help.

Over 25 million root canal treatments are performed safely and effectively every year. There are NO publications that prove root canals cause cancer. In fact, a 2013 publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients with multiple endodontic treatments had a 45 percent reduction in cancer risk.

The documentary also argues in favor of tooth extraction over root canal treatment. It argues that a tooth extraction removes disease and bacteria, where as a root canal preserves a diseased tooth. It effectively creates the illusion that tooth extractions are the only way to cleanse the mouth of disease and bacteria. However, it fails to discuss data that has demonstrated the presence of bacteria following 100% of tooth extractions and only 20% of endodontic treatments. To equate root canals with disease and bacteria is simply false. Although there are certainly situations where tooth extraction may be necessary, nothing looks, feels, or functions like your natural tooth, and in most cases, a root canal allows patients to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.

With plenty of myths surrounding endodontic treatment and root canals, it is understandable why this documentary had such an impact. But when you widen your view to understand the big picture, you will see that this film has led you astray. Speak to a trusted Endodontist like the ones at Central Ohio Endodontics for real information you can use to make important health decisions.

Final Note:

After careful review of the facts as well as letters from the American Association of Endodontics, American Dental Association, and the American Association for Dental Research, Netflix is no longer showing this documentary.