What Your Dentist Probably Neglected to Tell You About Root Canals

One of the most important rights you have as a patient is the right of informed consent. The “informed” part is crucial. How can you truly agree to – or refuse – any treatment without understanding what it involves, potential alternative treatments, and the risks and benefits of each, including the option to decline any treatment at all? Your doctor or dentist is obligated to share this kind of information with you so you can make informed decisions about your treatment plan.

Of course, it doesn’t always happen that way in practice. Many a dentist has placed “silver” amalgam fillings without telling their patients that mercury is the dominant component in this material. Or that mercury is toxic to the brain. Or that mercury is continually released from those fillings and can accumulate in the brain, kidneys, and other tissues.

The situation is similar when it comes to root canals.


What Root Canal Treatment Does to a Tooth

tooth_anatomyThough we call the procedure “a root canal,” the term specifically describes the main area of the tooth that’s involved in the procedure. Depending on the type of tooth, there can be 1 to 3 (or even more) canals that extend from the pulp chamber through the tooth’s roots.

The pulp chamber and canals contain the blood vessels, nerves, and other tissues that make the tooth alive. They’re surrounded by another layer of tissue called dentin, which is made up of miles of microscopic tubules and protected by the tooth’s outer layer of enamel.

Root canal therapy is usually touted as the best option for “saving” a tooth that is deeply diseased or badly fractured. Trouble is, the dentist or endodontist (root canal specialist) “saves” it by removing all of the living tissue, everything that keeps a tooth vital and nourished. The empty pulp chamber and canals are then disinfected, packed with a rubbery material called gutta percha, and sealed off with a filling or crown.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a terribly painful procedure. For the patient, it feels much like having a regular filling done. However, it can have significant long term health consequences.

How a Root Canal Tooth Can Become a Problem for Whole Body Health

There are a few aspects of root canals that give them the potential to become a burden on a person’s whole body health.

alt_morphologyFor one, unlike in the diagram above, a tooth’s root canals aren’t always so neat and clean. There may be small accessory canals coming off the sides. Sometimes canals can intertwine into quite a complex tangle. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to disinfect them completely, even using ozone or lasers.

This is an even bigger issue with the dentinal tubules, which contain proteins and other tissues acquired from the now absent pulp. They also provide ideal conditions for harmful bacteria to thrive: dark, moist, and difficult to access.

Once a root canal tooth is filled and capped, any remaining pathogens are free to proliferate, which they do. They also generate plenty of highly toxic metabolic waste. And because the tooth is still connected to the blood supply at its roots, all these toxins are free to enter the circulation and wreak havoc elsewhere in the body.

One 2020 study by Johann Lechner showed that exposure to such toxins decreased ATP activity in half the test subjects. These toxins, he suggested, may “thus serve as possible contributing factors in the development of mitochondriopathies” (mitochondrial disorders).

Other studies by Lechner have shown impacts on immune function, as well.

Ultimately, a root canal tooth is a dead tooth. Would you think it “healthy” to leave any other dead organ or tissue in your body?

Nor is this just a physical problem. It’s an energetic problem, too. The dead tooth blocks the meridian it sits on, and this can have serious implications for every other organ and structure that shares the same meridian.

This isn’t to say that every root canal will always cause problems or do so in the same way across all populations. There are far too many variables. The mouth/body connection is multifaceted and complex. Some people can tolerate root canals quite well for a long time, while others may be more sensitive. In people with pre-existing health issues or who carry a heavy toxic burden, a root canal can be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

The Holistic, Biological Alternative to Root Canals

From the biological perspective, the better option for a deeply decayed or damaged tooth is usually extraction – being careful, of course, to completely remove its periodontal ligament and clean the supporting bone to reduce the risk of a cavitation forming; to disinfect thoroughly with ozone; and to use PRF to support good, quick wound healing.

That tooth can then be replaced with a biocompatible ceramic implant, which has the look and function of a natural tooth, completely integrated with the supporting bone. If for any reason implants aren’t a good option, a “pop-in” partial can replace the missing tooth in a comfortable, aesthetic, and metal-free way.

And if you already have root canal teeth?

The solution isn’t to just demand they be removed but to get them evaluated and see what kind of burden they may be placing on your health. Once you – and we – have a full understanding of their condition and your total mouth/body health status, we can advise on the best course of action to take to get you on a path back towards optimal health.