You have just been diagnosed with heart disease, so your first thought is that it must just be a heart problem. Believe it or not, you might actually have a tooth problem as well. Your oral health can say a lot about your overall health. Could your heart condition be more than just bad luck?
Could your ailment be caused by a seemingly safe and effective common dental procedure? Remember, all disease has a source — the body doesn’t just “get sick,” and if you and your doctor can’t trace that root cause, you might want to start looking in your mouth.
In fact, start at the root of your mouth. It’s time to peek behind the curtain and find out the truth behind root canals.
The anatomy of the tooth
You likely studied anatomy in school, learning about the veins, organs, muscles, and bones that make up your body and support movement and life. But unless you have had further dental education, you’ve probably given little thought to the anatomy of your teeth.
Though we take our pearly whites for granted, an incredible process is happening beneath the surface that is crucial for our understanding of the root canal procedure.
Each tooth is a living organ, capped off by rock-hard enamel protecting the intricate insides. Under the enamel is the dentin, which consists of microscopic tubes carrying nutrients and fluid. These form the majority of the visible tooth, the crown.
Next is the pulp, the true meat of the tooth, full of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. This is the living part of the tooth that descends into the gums via the root canal.
What is a root canal?
When the tooth’s pulp becomes infected, this infection can spread down through the root canal, leading to an abscess and bone or gum infection. Infection can happen if a filling falls out, a cavity goes untreated, or a tooth gets cracked or damaged.
According to the American Association of Endodontists, signs of root canal infection include:
- Severe pain while chewing or biting
- Pimples on the gums
- A chipped or cracked tooth
- Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the sensation has been removed
- Swollen or tender gums
- Deep decay or darkening of the gums
Once the dentist has determined that the pulp is infected, a root canal is scheduled, and the drilling begins.
The endodontist (root canal dentist) gets to work. They drill through the tooth, remove the infected pulp, clean out the tooth and the inside of the root canal and fill the root canal with a rubber-like substance called gutta-percha. The dentist then tops the tooth with an artificial crown or filling and sends you on your way.
Why root canals are dangerous
At first glance, the concept seems sound. You have an infected tooth in your mouth, causing pain, swelling, and bacterial infection. What should you do? No one wants to lose a tooth, so the dentist suggests this nifty procedure to simply kill the tooth but leave it in your mouth — a root canal.
Unfortunately, this process isn’t quite as seamless as endodontists would have you believe. Those microscopic dentinal tubules in your tooth carry nutrients, immune cells, and bacteria from the tooth’s pulp through the dentin. These tubes can become seriously compromised by an infected root canal.
According to holistic dentists, it’s impossible to remove all bacteria from these tiny tubes during the root canal treatment process. Inevitably, some bacteria will remain trapped (and sealed) in the tooth following this procedure.
Except, the bacteria isn’t trapped; it is now free to travel down through your body, leading to infection, systemic disease, and health conditions. Even after a root canal, the infected, toxic teeth are still likely infected.
Plus, since the root is sealed and the blood supply is removed, immune cells cannot reach the tooth to help clear out any lingering bacteria. This oxygen-free environment is ripe for bacterial growth and infection.
Some holistic dentists suggest that root canals could lead to:
- Heart and circulatory disease
- Chronic inflammation
- Brain and nervous system disease
- Chronic fatigue
Not getting a root canal and leaving the decaying tooth alone also means widespread infection, severe pain, abscesses, and likely tooth loss. So what’s the answer?
Dr. Weston Price
Dr. Weston Price, a leading dentist in the 1920s and 30s, studied the bacteria present in root canal-treated teeth. He performed an experiment where he inserted a fragment of extracted root canal-treated teeth under the skin of rabbits.
He found that the diseases of the patient transferred to rabbits. For instance, if the tooth owner had experienced a heart attack, so would the rabbit a few weeks after this fragment was implanted in its skin.
He also found that even with intense chemical sterilization, far greater than what is used when the tooth is in the mouth, teeth with infected root canals could never be fully sterilized.
Dr. Price then posed the question: What is more important, to save the tooth or the patient’s health?
It is important to note that some people take issue with Dr. Price’s experiments, claiming a nonsterile environment, poorly controlled conditions, and the fact that other researchers haven’t been able to replicate his results. However, there is no evidence disproving his results — which is a crucial distinction.
What conventional dentists say about root canals
Conventional dentists and the American Dental Association support the safety and efficacy of root canals for preserving teeth, protecting bone structure, and preventing infection.
The American Association of Endodontists says that root canals are nothing to worry about and believe in protecting the natural tooth. Most of the support for this treatment comes from endodontists who specialize in this area of dentistry and are interested in protecting this procedure.
What holistic dentists say about root canals
On the other side of the argument sit holistic, biological dentists who believe that leaving a dead, infected tooth in the body is akin to taxidermy. They assert that root canal treatments are the root of heart disease and directly connect to cancer, especially breast cancer.
Like with conventional dentists, the problem is that there isn’t a lot of research to back up these claims, and much of the evidence is based on correlation, not causation.
Unlike conventional dentists, most holistic dentists use 3D cone beam scans to reveal abscesses on root canal-treated teeth that are not visible on a traditional 2D X-ray. This enhanced imaging could give them a leg up in understanding exactly what is going on in the mouth following this common dental procedure.
Root canals: A personal decision
When it comes to something with so much conflicting information, such as a root canal procedure, it is important to weigh both sides of the argument and work with your trusted healthcare professional to develop a plan that suits your unique needs.
Not everyone responds to toxins the same way. Plus, you might have a non-infected root canal-treated tooth in your mouth. Root canals don’t contribute to disease 100 percent of the time. If you are experiencing inexplicable health conditions and have had a root canal in the past, be sure to investigate this avenue further.
Do all root canal teeth have to be removed?
Contrary to what endodontists imply, there are methods available to get rid of a root canal infected tooth that doesn’t involve potentially harmful root canal procedures. Extraction is the primary option, as eradicating that infected tooth from the body as soon as possible is the best way to avoid further bone, gum, or systemic infection.
It is critical to find a dentist experienced in root canal-treated tooth extractions, as it is more complicated than simply pulling the tooth out. The infection is still present in the gums and the jawbone, so this bacteria must be drained out. Many biological dentists use ozone gas to help sterilize the infected area following extraction. Visit IAOMT.org can for help finding a biologically trained dentist in your area
Natural dental implants using biocompatible material such as zirconia are available and look and feel just like natural teeth. Another viable option is a dental bridge containing false teeth that attach to the crowns of the surrounding teeth.
Speak with your holistic dentist to determine if you need to remove a root canal-treated tooth, and always evaluate your options before booking a root canal appointment.
Contrary to what many doctors might say, health conditions don’t simply appear out of nowhere. Chronic fatigue, pain, and heart disease aren’t inevitable. Your body wants to function properly and support you, and if it isn’t, something is causing this disruption. Rather than searching for medication to cover up your problem, seek out the root cause of the illness.
This root cause could often be in the literal root of your teeth. Visit a holistic dentist, and they will examine your teeth to help you get to the bottom of your oral health. Remember, prevention is the best medicine. Look after your teeth and go to your trusted dentist immediately if you notice a toothache or other issue.
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Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD