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AAE: No link between Alzheimer's transmission and root canal treatment

Sept. 16, 2015
American Assoc. of Endodontists issues statement in response to Nature study, public alarm.

On Monday, the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) released a statement saying there was no established connection between Alzheimer's disease and root canals—or any other dental procedure.

The AAE statement was prompted by a study in the Journal Nature that found that Alzheimer's had been transmitted via growth hormone injections. Although the transmission was under unusual circumstances—the hormone had been extracted from cadavers with amyloid pathology associated with Alzheimer's—various media outlets responded by publishing articles saying the study opened the possibility of Alzheimer's transmission via dental work.

The AAE statement reads:

Despite provocative reporting and sensational headlines, the American Association of Endodontists today said there is no evidence that Alzheimer's disease can be spread from person to person by direct contact, or through any dental procedures or dental instruments.

"There is no evidence that root canal treatment poses a risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," said AAE President Dr. Terryl A. Propper, a private practicing endodontist in Nashville, Tennessee. "There are procedures in place to minimize infection risk from endodontic instruments such as files and reamers. Many endodontists employ single-use instruments and, if not, instruments are thoroughly sterilized prior to each use."

The study published in the journal Nature makes no mention of dental procedures as a risk factor, and the study author, Professor John Collinge, said, "Our current data has no bearing on dental surgery and certainly does not argue that dentistry poses a risk of Alzheimer's disease."

"There is nothing definitive in this study," said Dr. Propper. "Questions remain and the study authors acknowledge that more research is needed."


A news summary of the Nature studymay be found here.