A leading endodontist has curbed fears of new Alzheimer’s transmission theory in dentistry by saying there is ‘no place for alarmism’.
Dr Julian Webber of the Harley Street Centre of Endodontics believes a ‘chance finding’ arising out of post mortems on the brain tissue of eight people who died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) ‘should not on its own influence current provision of endodontics in the UK’.
The findings found ‘seeds’ of Alzheimer’s disease that may be transmissible through medical procedures such as root canal surgery by attaching themselves on surgical instruments.
Dr Webber comments: ‘There is no plausible scientific basis for believing that transmission can occur from one patient to another.’
The autopsies of six out of eight patients found they had amyloid deposits in the brain. Amyloid is an abnormal protein and a shared biomarker of both Alzheimer’s and vCJD.
The research team from University of College London (UCL) led by Professor John Collinge say there is a theoretical risk that the amyloid protein could be spread accidentally during surgical procedures, in the same way as CJD.
Dr Webber continues: ‘This is a chance finding and the amyloid protein may have been present as a result of the injections of contaminated growth hormone.
‘In the UK we already operate to a gold standard in endodontics, following the advice of the chief dental officer in 2007, that all files and reamers should be considered as single use. This is despite there being no evidence to support the presence of CJD prions in human dental pulp.
‘There should be no attempt to alter guidelines without further research and clear evidence.’
Read Dr Webber’s full statement here.