Tag Archives: dental foci

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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Health & Illness: More Than “If A and if B, then C”

One of this blog’s most popular posts is an article I originally wrote for my office website, “Why Doesn’t Everyone with Mercury Fillings Get Sick?”. The short answer – which I also discuss in the video “Silver Fillings, Toxic Teeth” – is that how a person fares with amalgams

tells us nothing about the fillings and everything about that individual’s constitution, immune response and ability to excrete toxins. Consider: if you have a healthy, robust immune system, you can be exposed to many pathogens without getting sick. It’s why not everyone gets the flu each year – or gets the same kind. Likewise, a person in good health and with few other risk factors may be able to bear the burden of mercury…for a time. But if they become ill or take up bad habits (e.g., eating junk food, taking drugs, smoking), their body becomes less and less able to rid itself of the mercury. That’s when you begin to see symptoms of Dental Amalgam Syndrome.

And the same can be said for most any kind of dental toxicity issue.

Several weeks ago, a reader expressed fear and concern in comments on an earlier post about root canals:

I am currently pregnant and have had to get 4 root canals during this pregnancy. I now have 6 total, at the age of 30. After doing research, I am now extremely scared and depressed. I would ideally like to have all of my root canals extracted, but am not sure that I can afford ths, after paying for the root canals themselves. Am I now destined for heart disease and/or cancer?

Strictly speaking, no one is destined for any disease. Yes, we may be genetically predisposed to certain illnesses or conditions. We may be at higher or lower risk due to factors such as lifestyle choices (e.g., diet, drug use) or environmental exposures. We may be constitutionally better or worse at eliminating the various toxins we’re exposed to.

Complex, chronic, multifactorial conditions such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders and “enigmatic” illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and multiple chemical sensitivities arise from a dynamic of forces and factors that we’re still just beginning to really grasp. But we do know that the body is a self-regulating organism whose health and healing can be supported through proper detoxification, nutrition and an active, balanced lifestyle. While living healthy is likewise no guarantee that a person will never get sick – we’ve all heard about people who lived as healthfully as possible yet still died young – it’s the best insurance policy we have.

The conventional view of medicine most of us grow up with is, to be blunt, pretty simplistic: For every illness, there’s a single cause; stopping symptoms is the same thing as curing disease. Our socialization into this model is so strong that even when we begin to understand its limitations and the benefits of a holistic, biological approach to health and well-being, we may still find our thinking stuck in its habitual ways. Here, fear becomes easy. We may assume that because we’re sick and have amalgam fillings and mercury is toxic, our illness must be due to the fillings. (Actually, only thorough, proper testing and evaluation can tell us that.) Or we may worry that the presence of root canal teeth is a one-way ticket to cancer.

Yes, there are strong, demonstrated links between health problems and dental foci – and a research record of more than 100 years – but there are no absolutes. There are too many variables.

Let’s go back to an example I used in passing in the mercury article we started with today: the flu. Why doesn’t everyone exposed to the virus get the flu – and why do some who “protect” themselves via vaccination get sick anyway? Because, as authors of a study published last year in PLoS Genetics put it, “Exposure to influenza viruses is necessary, but not sufficient, for healthy human hosts to develop symptomatic illness.” As MSNBC reported,

“Many people might conclude that if you are exposed to a virus and you don’t get sick, it’s because the virus didn’t stick or it was so weak, it just passed right through your system and your system didn’t notice. That’s not a correct notion,” says Alfred Hero, professor at the University of Michigan College of Engineering and author of the study….

He continues, “There is an active immune response which accounts for the resistance of certain people getting sick, and that response is just as active as the response we all know and hate, which is being sick with the sniffles, fever, coughing and sneezing. It’s just that the responses are different.”

And this is the case with all manner of exposures, whether to pathogenic microbes or other toxins: There’s always a response, but that response varies according to the individual. Is their immune system robust? Are they good excretors of mercury and other heavy metals? Do they practice good health habits to keep the body’s self-regulatory mechanisms in good working order?

This is why it’s so vital to look at each person’s situation and tailor treatment to their unique dynamic of factors – likewise, to always keep the big picture in mind: How does the dental situation fit in with and relate to the other health factors in a person’s life? Healing depends on a holistic, individualized approach.

Image by Lumiago, via Flickr

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Root Canals: Literally Sickening

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Root Canal Myths

Not all dentists are alike. Just as in physical medicine, there are different specialties. For instance, periodontists are dentists who specialize in the supporting structures of the teeth: the gums, jawbone and such. Orthodontists are concerned with the bite: how teeth come together. Endodontists specialize in the dental pulp – the living tissue within each tooth – and tissues surrounding the roots of the teeth.

An endodontist is the kind of specialist you might be referred to for root canal therapy – the conventional treatment for a badly decayed or damaged tooth threatened by infection. The pulp tissue is removed and the canal is cleaned out and filled. A crown or other restoration may then be placed over the tooth.

Endodontists and other establishment dentists often describe root canal therapy as “saving” a tooth – by which they can only mean keeping it in the mouth, preventing it from needing to be extracted. For despite their attempts at mythbusting, they wind up subscribing to a quite harmful myth: the idea that it makes good sense to keep a dead organ inside a living human body.

And that’s what a root canal treated tooth is: a dead organ. Once the tooth was alive and “vital,” and now is not. As such, it can – and often does – become a harbor for pathogenic (“bad,” disease-causing) microbes that can then move into the general circulation, where they can wreak havoc elsewhere in the body.

The root canal tooth becomes a site of “focal infection.”

The American Association of Endodontists (AAE) and others invested in maintaining the status quo refer to focal infection as one of the “myths” many people have about root canal therapy. They say that it’s based solely on the research of Weston Price, which they claim is simply “outdated.” Besides, they say, we all have “bacteria” in our mouths all the time. Why get freaked out over the idea that some remain within the pulp chamber even after it’s been sealed with gutta percha? (Of course we all have microbes of all sorts throughout our bodies at all times, and the vast majority are harmless or beneficial. The AAE “myth” page says nothing of the particular types of microbe commonly found in root canal treated teeth.)

But research has been done by many others besides Price. Founding AAE member George Meinig was one of the key figures in bringing Price’s and others’ research to light, leading him to renounce his former faith in root canals. T.P. Stortebecker’s extensive research of dental foci is also highly compelling. And, of course, Boyd Haley’s research into dental toxins has been crucial to our growing understanding of the problems with root canal teeth.

Also eye-opening are the observations of cancer specialist Joseph Issels, who has written on the strong associations he has seen between dental conditions and cancer. In Cancer: A Second Opinion, he writes,

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.

* * *

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 above passage is cited by my colleague Dr. Gary Verigin in an article on dental foci and cancer (Note: follow the link and scroll down to the second article) that is well worth a read…especially if you want to push past the real myths of root canal treatment and get to the truth: Root canals have the potential to cause more problems than they may “cure.”

Learn more about root canals and other dental situations that can impact your overall health and well being at Dr. Erwin’s office website.

Images by wellcome images and SuperFantastic, via Flickr

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Why You Want to Avoid Root Canals


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Root Canals, Cavitations & Focal Infections

When people go to school to become physicians, they are taught relatively little about dental concerns. After all, what are dentists for, right? Likewise, dentists are little trained in matters of systemic or total body health. Those are considered the natural concern of physicians.

On one level, this is appropriate, as specialization can lead to better care. But on another, it intensifies the illusion that the mouth is an entirely separate organ from the rest of the body and that anything that happens in the mouth has local effects only.

How could this be? The oral structures are directly connected with the sinuses and upper respiratory tract. They are connected by nerves, blood and lymph vessels and so on, through which information or material can be passed along to and from every cell in the body. There are numerous routes for bacteria and other pathogens to migrate from the friendly confines of the oral cavity to anywhere they please, infecting and causing disease and dysfunction in any number of organs, depending on the type of bacteria and the condition of the immune system and biological terrain – your body’s internal environment, the state of which largely determines whether and how you’ll get sick.

Fortunately, conventional physicians and dentists both are beginning to understand and accept that there are strong relationships between dental and oral conditions and systemic health. It’s most accepted with respect to the strongly established link between periodontitis (gum disease) and heart disease. Diabetes and a range of inflammatory conditions also have been linked.

Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease process. It most commonly arises when bacterial biofilms (plaque) are not regularly or sufficiently disturbed by brushing, flossing and other oral hygiene practices. They multiply and colonize. As they begin to destroy the periodontal ligament and adjacent structures, pockets form around the teeth, giving the microbes an ideal environment for further colonization and growth: dark, moist and lacking oxygen (the microbes involved are anaerobic, thriving only when oxygen is not present). As their numbers continue to grow, some move into the general circulation via the blood and lymph systems. From here, they may be carried to any organ or area of the body. The heart has proven to be one of the most vulnerable sites for the colonization of pathogenic oral flora.

This sort of situation, in which local conditions have distant effects, is part of a body of knowledge known as focal infection theory. Periodontal disease can be one type of focal infection. Two other dental conditions have proven likewise: the presence of root canal teeth and cavitations.

Infected Root Canals

Root canals can be thought of as very deep fillings that are most often placed when decay has penetrated deeply into the core of a tooth – an area known as the pulpal complex. The tooth becomes a site of infection. To “save” it, an endodontist – a dentist who specializes in root canal therapy – drills into this sensitive area full of nerves and blood vessels, scrapes out the infected pulp, then fills and seals the narrow opening. The tooth is still there but now dead. What had made it vital – the nerves, vessels and other structures – is gone.

And the tooth is still likely infected.

Although mainstream dentists assure us that each root canal tooth is cleaned out and sterilized completely before the filling material is placed, doing so is a physical impossibility. Even if the pulpal chamber could be thoroughly cleaned out – something difficult enough to do, owing to its size and anatomical structure – bacteria and their metabolic waste cannot be removed from the miles of tiny dentinal tubules packed into each tooth, surrounding the pulp. Sealing the tooth provides these pathogens with that dark, moist, anaerobic environment in which they thrive – just as in a periodontal pocket. In fact, from the bacterial standpoint, it’s even better, as the seal effectively protects the microbes as they colonize, multiply and become more virulent through a process known as pleomorphism (literally meaning “many shapes”).

While the top and much of the tooth’s interior are sealed, the tooth is not completely blocked off from the rest of the body. There is an escape route through the vessels that extend into the tip of the tooth’s root. While nutrients via the blood don’t get in – indeed, why should they need to? there’s nothing to keep alive within the tooth – the microbes can and do get out and into the general circulation.

Even the cleanest, most “sterile” root canal tooth can remain infected. Scientists at ALT Corp have found that 99% of all root canal teeth contain pathogenic microbes. Where they go, what organs they affect and how depend on the specific type of bacteria involved. This has been known since the days of the great dental researcher Dr. Weston Price. Price found that if he extracted a root canal tooth from a person with a particular illness and then sewed that tooth under the skin of a rabbit, the rabbit would almost always develop the same type of illness experienced by the tooth donor. This not only shows that infection remains in the teeth but that the pathogens involved can affect other organs in the body.


The same sort of disease process is at work when it comes to the matter of cavitations, a condition very few dentists even know about.

In simplest terms, a cavitation is a hole in the jaw bone that has not healed correctly. There are many causes, including dental trauma, gum disease and toxic assault, but they most commonly occur when a socket is not cleaned thoroughly after tooth extraction. Bacteria remain. And once healthy tissue grows over the surgical site, the hole is effectively sealed off. Again, conditions are ripe for increased infection. Locally, the infection continues to destroy the tissues within, and the waste from the dead and decaying tissues exacerbates the infection.

As in the other cases, the infection does not remain localized. The pathogens have access to the general circulation via blood and lymph vessels. And again, where they go, what organs they affect and how depend on their type. Notably, mercury and other heavy toxic metals may also be distributed through the body via cavitations, as evidence suggests they can act as holding tanks of sorts for the vapor released by mercury fillings in the mouth. It is, in short, another route of access for systemic mercury poisoning.

Treating Focal Infections

Infected root canal teeth can be removed. Cavitational surgery can remove the source of infection and facilitate proper healing. The patient’s recovery can be supported through nutritional and homeopathic detox protocols or other complementary therapies.

Should you pursue these therapies? When cavitations exist, it is almost always recommended to have them properly treated. But what if you have root canals that don’t seem to be causing problems? Some people choose to remove them as a preventive measure. Others decide to play wait-and-see. As ever, it all boils down to how much risk you’re willing to take.

As with any sort of procedure, we cannot say that such treatments can or will cure all, especially when it comes to chronic, systemic illnesses. Be that as it may, removing toxins from your body must always be considered a positive thing. It gives your body a fighting chance to heal, be whole and thrive.

Learn more about cavitations

Read more articles like this one


Root canal image via Wikimedia Commons. Cavitation image via healthcarealternatives.net.


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