To be totally honest, I’ve always been leery of root canals. On top of that, I have heard stories of pain and infections from those who have had the procedure done.
During the online Holistic Oral Health Summit, I listened to an interview with Dr. Robert Kulacz. His interview was called Medical Alert: Root Canal Procedures. During the interview, he spoke about what a root canal is, how it can impact ones overall health and he provided some alternatives.
Let me just stop right here and say, if you’re not taking advantage of information that is shared on online health summits, you’re missing out! Each summit provides a ton on valuable information from typically 25-30 doctors and health leaders who speak during each summit on various topics. Be sure to check them out!
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is performed when the infection from a cavity has gotten so deep that it has invaded the pulp tissue inside the center portion of the tooth. The root canal space in the tooth houses the blood vessels and nerves of the tooth. Once it’s infected, you either have to have a root canal or extraction.
During a root canal, the dentist enters and removes the decay by inserting long instruments all the way down to the root to remove tissue and widen canal space. They then put in antimicroial agents to remove the bacteria. The goal is to widen and shape the space, sterilize it and seal it with a root canal filler.
The problem is – you can never fully sterilize the tooth. There is always going to be a remaining infection after the root canal is completed. The body of the tooth is porus, not solid. The tubules (channels) collect bacteria. Root canal teeth can become more infected over time because blood flow prevents bacteria. Once you have a root canal, that tooth is dead. There is no longer a blood supply. The normal fluid flow cleanses the bacteria. The fluid is no longer there and the pocket around the tooth allows the bacteria to fill the tooth.
“The dead tissue becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, and the immune system is powerless to halt the growing infection.” Dr. Amy Myers (also a guest on the summit)
The Toxic Tooth
No restoration is perfectly sealed. All of the toxins are collected in one place. Over three-fourths of root canal teeth inhibit small molecules called exotoxins – a toxin secreted by bacteria. The toxins that the root canal teeth release are even more toxic and might be more dangerous. They migrate out of the tooth into the blood stream 24/7. They can cause arthritis, kidney problems, aneurysms, brain problems, etc.
The bad bacteria can wipe out antibodies and white blood cells. The immune system gets worn out from the root canal toxins on top of all of the other toxins we’re exposed to. Someone who is young and healthy might be able to handle a root canal until their toxic bucket fills, but every person is different. You need to weigh the risks. As Dr. Kulacz states,
“The systemic risk of a root canal-treated tooth depends upon the type of bacteria that infect the tooth and the bacteria and toxins that they release. The age of the patient, underlying health conditions, and immune system health are also important factors in determining the systemic risk of a root canal-treated tooth.”
Recommendations if You Opt for a Root Canal
If you opt for a root canal, Dr. Kulacz offers the following recommendations to dentists when removing the tooth:
- Never use epinephrine because it restricts blood vessels – it can damage bone cells because of the lack of blood flow.
- Remove the tooth in sections.
- Do not fracture the bone.
- Do not use the adjacent tooth as a lever.
- Do not severe the blood vessels.
- Take cultures of the tissue.
- Remove the bone near the root and perimeter of the socket.
- Remove the ligament and the socket bone.
He says that new bone will regenerate if you do the proper procedure and if you have the proper blood supply.
Alternative Options to Root Canals
If you feel the risk of having a root canal is too great in your situation, you have other options to replace an extracted tooth.
The first option is to do nothing and leave the space empty, especially if it’s a back molar. However if it is for a young person, this isn’t a good option since their teeth may still drift over time into that space.
Insert a Removable Denture or Bridge
You can opt for a removable denture or bridge. With a bridge, either side of the empty space is capped and a permanent porcelain or metal tooth is attached to the middle. If you do metal, make sure it isn’t competing with other metal you may already have in your mouth. The disadvantage to having a bridge is that “teeth adjacent to the missing tooth will have to be prepared for crowns that entail removing an extensive amount of tooth structure. In addition, teeth that have been prepared for crowns run the risk of the nerve dying which will then require a root canal or an extraction.”
If you opt for a removable denture, you need to remove it each night. It is not permanently fixed in place. Also, some people find this option uncomfortable.
Insert a Dental Implant
Another option is a dental implant. This can be a good option, but it can be a little controversial. It takes the bone time to heal before being restored. A post is placed into the bone where the missing tooth was. It is either titanium, or zirconium. Zirconium tends to be the better option since titanium is a metal which might cause allergies. An artificial tooth is then built on the top of the post implant. Implants can last a long time. However, they can come with associated health risks. See Dr. Mercola’s article for further information.
If you have an issue with a tooth, it is important to weigh all of your options. Like Dr. Mercola, I recommend looking for a mercury-free dentist, biological dentist who is concerned with how the dental materials, techniques and procedures will effect your whole body.
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