Root canals aren’t the most fun subject to discuss. But we have received so many questions about root canals and the positive options available that we feel it essential to discuss the issue.
For clarity, we prefer to write about positive solutions, rather than purely weighing the risks and downsides of whatever options remain available. (Like when pondering what to do if you already have a root canal…) However, that’s not always possible.
This is the second article in our root canals series. In case you missed it, you can read the first article, Understanding The Issues Of Root Canals, here.
Before we jump into the subject, I feel the need for a short disclosure. We share this information strictly for informational purposes only. We are not making any recommendations or offering any suggestions to how you should or shouldn’t handle your personal dental situation. We do hope that this information will empower you to know all of the options available so you can make the most informed decision possible.
Ultimately, each of us has to gather whatever information we can from whatever resources we find helpful in order to navigate the sometimes challenging terrain of dental issues.
Okay – let’s dive into the different options available if you have a root canal.
The Primary Risks With Root Canals
In order to do this subject the justice it deserves, let’s first lay down several primary risks that experts have brought to light about root canals. Last year, we interviewed Dr. Robert Gammal on the subject of root canals for our free online event, the HealThy Mouth World Summit. Dr. Robert Gammal is the creator of the movie Rooted, which documents the various risks of root canals (the reference page for the movie has over 250 entries!).
According to Dr. Gammal, the primary failures of conventional root canal therapy are:
1. It is impossible to clean out all the dead tissue from the canal of the tooth. Any dead tissue left in the body becomes gangrenous. The toxins that come out of gangrenous tissue are very harmful to the body and pose a threat to the immune system. Nowhere else in medicine would a physician suggest to leave dead tissue in the body.
2. It is impossible to sterilize the tooth, which leads to the dead tooth having lots and lots of space within it for disease-causing bacteria to proliferate. This is the enemy inside the gates of the body.
*Dental journals combine these two issues above clearly: “It is now known that complete sterilization of an infected root canal is very difficult to achieve, and complete removal of all pulp tissue remnants frequently is not possible.”(1)
3. Common protocol during root canal therapy is to place antibiotics into the canal. This antibiotic material only gets a short distance into the dentin tubules. The dental literature admits that this type of ‘semi’ application of antibiotics creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
4. Substances used to cleanse and seal the tooth are cytotoxic (kills cells) or even carcinogenic (causes cancer).
Ok, so there’s a quick recap of the risks of root canal therapy.
But if you already have a root canal, then what are your options?
1. Do nothing.
This is always an option. We can choose to care for our immunological health to our best ability, support our health and keep the root canal tooth in place. Keep in mind that despite all the information above, there are many dental professionals who argue that root canal therapy is a safe treatment.
One must reflect that life isn’t over because you have a root canal. Remember that primary to creating greater immunological health is our ability to manage our stress. While diet is fundamental, stress firmly takes its place as the number one factor in creating or destroying immune health. So, above all else, learn to manage your stress. If you find you are becoming stressed about your root canal, then stop reading for a few moments. Take a walk in nature with bare feet. Focus on the beauty around you for five minutes. Pray. Meditate. Take whatever action that helps you feel good. Do nothing. This is the number one thing each of us must do to reach optimal immunological health.
2. Have the root canal retreated using more thorough technologies.
This may be an option for certain people looking for a more tangible solution. According to Dr. Robert Gammal, if we were able to eliminate all the bacteria in the root canal (which using conventional methods is entirely impossible), this would be a major step forward. Dr. Gammal then states that he thinks we would see a great drop off in the side effects in the disease state from root canal therapy.
The best way we know to effectively eliminate bacteria during a root canal is to use ozone gas during the treatment. If a person already has a root canal, they could choose to have the root canal ‘retreated’ by a dentist who uses ozone gas in their clinic. Different than conventional drills or more recent technology that uses lasers to cleanse the canal, ozone gas will flow into the dentin tubules and can eliminate bacteria in the tooth. While we don’t know if ozone gas will completely cleanse the tooth, using ozone gas during a root canal treatment would reduce disease more effectively, reducing ‘bad bugs’. This article has a global database of dentists who use ozone in their dentistry practice.
To take it a step further, the dentist could also reseal the canal using more biocompatible materials. This is to avoid the obvious risks from the conventional materials breaking down into dangerous compounds like ammonia, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. If you want to go this route, we suggest you first have a dental materials blood compatibility test completed. It’s around $300, and you only have to do it once in your life to find out exactly what dental materials irritate your immune system less than others. In this way, you could have materials that are in the ‘less irritating’ group from your biocompatibility test used to seal and fill the canal.
3. Have the root canal tooth removed.
Finally, if you have a root canal and want to know your options, this is our last solution: remove the root canal tooth. If you choose to have the root canal tooth removed, then it is very, very important to have it done properly.
If it’s true that the root canal tooth is a source point for disease-causing bacteria to enter the body, then having it removed properly is crucial. This ensures that the area is well cleaned out after the tooth is removed. Our research suggests that the dentist doing the removal should treat the situation as a surgical procedure. Dr. Gammal shared with us in the HealThy Mouth World Summit that he prefers to cut molars into parts so he can be very sure to remove all of the tooth. He also revealed that root canal teeth are feeble, and a root can easily break off during extraction. In this circumstance, the dentist has the choice to either leave the piece of root in place, which would be a dreadful choice, or go dig around for the tip–and that doesn’t sound like much fun at all.
From our other articles on root canals, you may recall that Dr. Weston Price embedded a root tip of a tooth that had been root canaled under the skin of a rabbit. It provoked the same cause of death that occurred to the human who had the root canal. So, having all the pieces of the dead tooth removed are crucial.
It’s best if the dentist approaches the extraction of a root canal very precisely, treating it as a potential surgical situation.
Another important step sometimes overlooked is the necessity to clean completely out the extraction site after removing the tooth. There is a ligament, called the periodontal ligament, which tends to be a hot spot for infection. The procedure experts have shared with us that they use a rounded burr tip on their drill to clean out the extraction site and remove any infected tissue, including the periodontal ligament.
Of course, if someone chooses to have the root canal removed, the follow-up question is, ‘What are the options to fill the gap?’
You can read our response to that question in the next article of the series, Options If You Have A Missing Tooth, here.
What have been your experiences with root canals? Which of the options above seem most helpful for your particular situation?
Please share this article with loved ones who may be looking for empowering solutions to their dental issues.
If you liked this article on root canals, then you may find great benefit from these related resources:
1. Phillip Delivanis Oral Surgery 1981 Vol 52 No 4