Getting to the Root (Canal) of the Issue

Break out the streamers and strike up the band! Root Canal Awareness Week starts Sunday!

Hey. Where are you going?

While the endodontists – dentists who specialize in root canals – want to sell you on the wonders of root canals, the 70% who’d prefer to avoid them are right to be wary…but maybe not for the reasons they think.

Root canal therapy is typically recommended when a conventional dentist notices advanced decay extending into the dentin of a tooth. They say this will “save” the tooth, but in reality, it saves only the outer structure. All the tissue that made it a living organ – the pulp – is removed.

The hollowed out pulp chamber is then filled with a putty-like substance and sealed with a restoration.

This is just one of the things an endodontist probably won’t tell you. Dr. Mercola and Dr. Huggins can tell you many more.


As former endodontist George Meinig once said,

We believe now that every root canal filling does leak and bacteria do invade the structure. But the variable factor is the strength of the person’s immune system. Some healthy people are able to control the germs that escape from their teeth into other areas of the body. We think this happens because their immune system lymphocytes (white blood cells) and other disease fighters aren’t constantly compromised by other ailments. In other words, they are able to prevent those new colonies from taking hold in other tissues throughout the body. But over time, most people with root filled teeth do seem to develop some kinds of systemic symptoms they didn’t have before. (emphasis added)

Turn to cancer expert Dr. Joseph Issels, and the bad news just keeps on coming:

According to Issels, “A survey conducted at my clinic found that, on admission, ninety-eight percent of the adult cancer patients had between two and ten dead teeth, each one a dangerous toxin producing ‘factory.'” The clear implication is that no dentist had carefully evaluated those people for dental foci – oral sources of infection that affect other areas of and organs in the body.

Issels continues:

Only total, thorough dental treatment will really succeed in giving the body’s defense a chance. The growth of the tumor itself is very often distinctly slowed down by focus treatment. Now and then tumor development stops altogether, and sometimes even regresses. The head foci therefore seem not only to contribute to the development of secondary lesions, to the origin of cancer disease, but also to exert a direct influence on tumor growth by stimulating it. Many tumors seem to respond to immunological therapy only when foci have been removed. The subsequent improvement in the body’s defenses clearly shows itself in the response to immunizing vaccines.

He later makes a very sobering statement:

My own unhappy experience shows that with cancer patients, foci treatment has generally been left to a very late stage. In the vast majority of the patients I have treated, it was quite clear that foci treatment should have been carried out years before and certainly long before the manifestation of the tumors.

So what to do if a tooth is so infected that root canal therapy may be called for? There are some biological dentists who believe it can still be an option so long as the canal is thoroughly disinfected with ozone before sealing, but as we’ve noted, that may not be a good long-term solution.

Extraction may sound extreme, but in light of the havoc oral pathogens can cause, it really is often the lesser of two evils. Once the tooth is out, it may be replaced with a bridge, partial or possibly a zirconium implant.

Ultimately, the choice is yours to make. The important thing is to understand the risks and benefits of any dental procedure and determine the option that best matches your needs, goals and values.

It’s easy for the uninitiated to misunderstand the science behind holistic dentistry and its whole-body health approach. If you want to know more, one of our favorite introductions is the very readable Whole Body Dentistry by Mark A. Breiner, DDS, which covers the whole shebang. For more specific and in-depth information about root canals, check out Meinig’s classic Root Canal Cover-Up.

Image by Zzyzx11, via Wikimedia Commons

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