It’s been many months since we first published the previous articles on root canals.
For those of you who are new to this series, we began this journey with an article titled, “Understanding the issues with root canals” that explores some of the primary concerns about root canal therapy.
We then pondered together what our options are if we have an existing root canal, with the article titled “I have a root canal. What are my options?”.
The last article we wrote on the subject explores options if we have a missing tooth. (While not specifically about root canals, one option that some people choose, if they have an existing root canal, is to have the dead tooth removed, so we include this article in the series.)
And so we continue the discussion of what is definitely one of the most heated debates in dentistry today. Arguments exist on both sides regarding the relative safety of root canal therapy.
Full disclosure here… We aren’t dentists, hygienists, or physicians. We can’t offer guidance, medical advice or anything of that sort. We do enjoy being the educated friend to help you think through your options, to support one another along our path toward dental self-empowerment, and to discuss questions you might want to ask your dentist if faced with this situation.
One way we like to address questions like this that come in from folks like you in our community is to ponder, “What would I do if faced with this situation?” This article serves as our answer to this question.
To start, we want to make sure that we have our heads screwed on straight on this subject. A root canal permanently kills a tooth by removing the nerve, pulp tissue and blood flow through the tooth. It’s a permanent surgical procedure.
Dentists who speak out against the safety of root canals bring up 3 main concerns:
1. There is no way to completely remove all the dead tissue from the tooth
2. There is no way to sterilize the tooth, thus leaving bacteria in the tooth
3. The materials used to fill the hollowed out tooth leak and cause problems ‘downstream’
Those in the profession who claim that root canals are safe claim:
1. Enough of the tissue is removed
2. The body’s immune system can better get on top of any existing infection
3. There are improved substances to fill the tooth
4. There are no other suitable options
So, with both sides having seemingly solid arguments, how are we to navigate this circumstance?
Welcome to dental self-empowerment…
To begin, we have to start at the foundation. Each of us is in charge of navigating our path to optimal oral health. This is the baseline of our whole thinking here at OraWellness.
We have been conditioned to give our authority to those in more educated positions. When faced with a dentist who tells us that we need this or that treatment, most of us assume that they know everything there is to know on the subject and therefore know best.
In that assumption, we give our power over to the professional to make the decisions for us. It’s this ‘the medical professional knows what’s best for me’ mentality that we want to shift in our culture.
Now, this does not mean that we rebelliously reject anything the professional suggests or that we are anti-dentistry. Quite to the contrary. We believe a well-informed, gentle dentist can be your best friend and a life saver! It simply means that we must recognize that no one can tell us what is best for us. We want a dental team to be highly educated helpers, guides, and technicians. This is very different than the dental team being ‘the boss’ regarding what procedures each of us will or won’t have done and that we simply have to blindly follow their advice.
With that critical piece of the puzzle in place, we are in the position to make wiser choices and ultimately navigate this uncertain path more successfully.
1. Stay in your power.
If faced with this situation, I would take the dentist’s recommendation, tell them I would call if I wanted to schedule the appointment and get out of the office.
No doubt you’ve felt ‘that pressure’. You know, when you are sitting in the dental chair in their office, the ‘professional perspective’ can weigh much heavier on our psyche. So, take the prognosis, complete whatever you are there to do, and leave so you can think free from the ‘professional pressure’.
2. Time for a ‘heart to heart’ with yourself…
Now it’s time to really take a good, honest look at your life. If the dentist is accurate about the ‘need’ for a root canal (which we’ll address below), are you willing to do what it may take to keep the tooth? You see, there are many stories of people successfully ‘chasing back’ the need for a real root canal without getting the procedure.
However, people succeeding at this are not common as most of us simply won’t make the changes necessary to support our oral health sufficiently to recover from such an ‘end game’ situation. You see, by the time that a dentist suggests a root canal (again presuming they are correct in their prognosis), the infection has been destroying the integrity of that tooth for quite some time.
So, the effort it takes to recover from such a ‘position of compromise’ takes diligence. Even then, it’s not guaranteed that all efforts will prove successful in the end.
Are you willing to take an honest inventory of your diet and make the changes necessary?
Do you have the financial means to purchase supplementation and quality foods that will be required to make the shift?
If you choose to save the tooth, our ‘5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth’ video tutorial series will provide you a good foundation on the nutritional and mind frame necessary to be successful on your journey.
Taking a good, sober look at your situation and being real with yourself will help you determine which path is right for you. There’s no shame in realizing that we simply don’t have it in us right now to really make the shift necessary. That’s being honest with ourselves.
3. Question Authority
So, the next thing we would do is to get a second opinion. It may cost you a bit to do this, but given the permanence and potential risks of the procedure, choosing to get a second opinion may have a substantial impact on your long-term health.
We commonly say around here “Not all dentists are created equal”. What we mean by that is you can get very, very different diagnoses and suggested course of treatment from going to different dentists.
It’s an unfortunate reality that when to perform a specific procedure is very much not a black and white issue. While with some obvious situations, all dentists may agree with a course of treatment, with most situations, the expert opinions can vary widely.
So, given that we are being told that we need a permanent surgical procedure done that some within the very profession claim have potentially severe risks to our whole body health, we owe it to ourselves to get a second opinion prior to moving forward. Here’s a link to an article we wrote to help you find a dentist who is optimally qualified to assist you along your path to greater oral health.
4. Research internal organ associations with the challenged tooth
So much clarity and insight can come when we stop and take a step back to look at ‘the big picture’. In this case, researching what internal organs relate to the challenged tooth may bring empowering ‘a-Ha’ experiences.
For example, let’s say that the tooth in question relates to your liver. Knowing this information can provide you additional information so you can focus more care on the liver and thereby optimally support the health of your whole body, whether you choose to do the root canal or choose to remediate the tooth holistically.
Here’s a link to our interactive Meridian Tooth Chart which shows you the internal organs and body parts that relate to each tooth. Just click on a tooth and the chart will tell you what organs/body parts relate to that tooth.
5. Ask intelligent questions before consenting to the procedure.
Ok, presuming you have gone through the ‘inner work’ to determine that you are going to move forward with the root canal, this step of asking questions is critical in order to find a dentist who can really help you through this.
Similar to the person who realizes in hindsight that they should have asked questions prior to having their mercury amalgams removed, taking the time (and confronting the cultural discomfort of asking some pointed questions of a medical professional) can make the difference between a successful dental procedure and one you may regret.
Given that this article is already a bit long (thanks for reading through to the end! :), we will continue this discussion in the next article where we will focus on the questions to ask your dentist regarding root canals. Here’s a link to 3 questions you must ask your dentist when considering a root canal.
As always, please share this article with loved ones in your life that may find benefit from these words of support. By sharing this article, you help us help others navigate the path to greater oral health.
That means more smiles in the world, which we all want to see! 🙂
Other articles on root canals: