Misinformation about root canals still lives on social media

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A film that revived junk science, claiming root canals cause serious illnesses like cancer, was removed from streaming platforms this past spring after backlash from the dental community, but it continues to live on social media, according to Poynter Institute's nonprofit project PolitiFact.

On November 3, Alexandra Duran posted on Facebook: "Did you know? Dentists are the only physicians that believe you can get away with leaving dead tissue in the body. One root canal tooth can shut down 63% of your immune system." The same post also encouraged people to watch the movie "Root Cause."

The documentary, which still can be purchased on Vimeo, by Australian filmmaker Frazer Bailey is largely based on discredited dental research from the early 1900s that claims infections inside of root canals cause many different health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and chronic illness. It urges viewers to have any teeth that were treated with a root canal extracted and replaced with a ceramic bridge or zirconia implant.

The post, which was shared about 200 times before it was flagged as part of Facebook's efforts to stop the spread of false information on its platform, helps keep the misinformation alive. This especially concerning since surveys have shown that about 44% of people believe health and fitness advice they find on social media.

The post reads, "Never, ever get a root canal!! Get the tooth removed along with the periodontal ligament then get an implant or a bridge." Additionally, it included the outrageous claim that "Of all the women with breast cancer 98% had a root canal on the same side!!!"

The ADA, dental schools, and others in the industry have rebuked the claims, noting they are not based on valid scientific research. However, this has not stopped people from sharing and posting the information.

The documentary's Facebook and Twitter pages remain active. More than 4,200 people follow the Facebook page and almost an equal number have liked the page.

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