PLEASE NOTE: This is the first of a two part series. Part two with comprehensive and specific options on what to do if you already have a root canal will be posted soon. These two articles are our effort to help save lives not teeth.
By Dr. Lina Garcia
One of the fundamental understandings that supports holistic, biological dentistry is that the dental procedures and materials used in them can affect your whole body, not just your teeth.
In the case of a root canal procedure, it can lead to a number of chronic health problems and even degenerative diseases. Unfortunately, it is very rare for someone in need of dental care to be aware of this.
Although you may be surprised to read this view of root canals, any time the procedure is done there is a real possibility it can endanger your overall health because of the infection and toxicity that can develop in your tooth after the root canal is performed.
The connection between a root canal treated tooth and disease in another area of your body is one the majority of health-care practitioners and their patients are simply unaware of.
The lack of awareness of this connection is puzzling when you consider that in conventional dentistry medicine there is an appreciation of research that has identified a connection between periodontal disease and other health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, and difficulties during pregnancy.
Periodontal disease is the general label used to describe chronic infection and/or inflammation of the gums and the supporting structures of the teeth. The American Academy of Periodontology actively seeks to educate the public about research that supports what perceptive dentists inevitably recognize: "Infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in the body."
Periodontal Disease: A Risk Factor for a Root Canal
Periodontal disease has been identified as a potential risk factor for many systemic diseases. However, it is not well appreciated that microbes surrounding a periodontally involved tooth can invade it from the apex and damage or kill it.
When this happens, a conventional dentist will recommend a root canal procedure. Tragically, most conventional dental and medical establishments inexplicably disregard the connection between oral microbes associated with root canals and systemic disease.
So, every year, millions of Americans undergo at least one root canal procedure with no awareness of the risk involved to their overall health. The root canal procedure is typically done instead of extracting the diseased, dying, or sometimes already dead tooth.
Root canals have been, and continue to be, a conventional, or "standard of care," procedure done by a dentist or an endodontist. (An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in doing a root canal procedure, which is also called endodontic therapy.)
The root canal procedure is endorsed by the dental establishment as the preferred alternative to extraction. It is a big part of the business of dentistry. Give people what they want — and who wants to lose a tooth? So conventional dentistry offers a procedure that allows patients to keep a problem tooth while conveying confidence there are no risks involved.
But, unfortunately, there are risks.And what all too many dental practitioners don't realize is that a root canal treated tooth can be a direct cause of numerous degenerative diseases.
Many Diseases Can Be Related to Root-Canal-Treated Teeth
If you have at least one root canal treated tooth, acting upon the understanding that it can be damaging to your health may help you realize freedom from one of the diseases or ailments listed in the table below.
||Endocarditis and myocarditis (heart inflammation)
||Kidney, liver, and gallbladder problems |
||Hardening of the arteries
||Nervous system breakdowns |
Many people suffer from diseases or ailments that modern medicine says are ofunknown cause. Well, the reality is that root canals are a seriously overlooked cause of many diseases.
More and more holistic-minded dentists, physicians and other practitioners are beginning to realize that many previously "incurable" diseases and ailments, which have no conventionally recognized cause, can sometimes be radically improved or completely resolved by extracting a root-canal tooth (or teeth) and properly cleaning out the tooth socket(s).
A Root Canal Will Leave Dead Tissue in Your Body
On the surface, having a root canal procedure instead of extracting a tooth is very appealing. A tooth is obviously an important part of your body that you want to keep if at all possible. But it's more important for you to see your health in a holistic way, so you can avoid losing much more than your tooth It's silly for us to think of ourselves as a collection of body parts that function independently of each other.
Seeing your health in a holistic way leads to understanding that each and every, part of your body can have an influence on the whole. In cases of intense pain, it may be thought of as a "mercy killing," but having a root canal can definitely be an effective way to eliminate the pain — kill the tooth and you kill the pain.
The pain is gone because the nerves are gone. However, a much more accurate, no-nonsense way of describing the end result of a root canal is this: It doesn't "save" the life of the tooth, but it does keep enough of the tooth's structure intact so that the crowned chewing surface will be functional, and you keep the aesthetic value of the tooth.
So there you are — you are now left with a functional but dead tooth in your mouth that looks good when you smile. But think about this for a moment. Doesn't it seem unhealthy, and even strange, to leave a dead tooth in your mouth? If any another organ in your body, like your appendix, were dead, it would have to be removed or else very aggressive strains of microbes that nature uses to decompose dead tissue would set in and threaten your life! And something similar happens with a dead tooth, whether it is killed from infection, trauma or the root-canal procedure.
After a root canal is done, the dead tooth, not sometimes, but always becomes an environment conducive to harboring chronic infection and toxicity. Because there is no reliable way, practically speaking, to completely sterilize a root canal treated tooth, (while it is still in a patient's mouth), it will be a source of infection for the whole body until it is extracted and the tooth socket is cleaned.
How to Avoid the Root Canal Procedure That You Might Not Even Need
One of my biggest challenges as a Biological Dentist is when a patient cries with regret for agreeing to have a root canal procedure done to a tooth or teeth – a procedure they neither needed nor understood from the perspective of whole body health. Like any part of the body, a tooth can be inflamed, painful, or simply sensitive. If you go to a dentist they will quite often advise you to have a root canal.
But not so fast! Let's learn and make a wise decision. The table below lists several reasons a tooth can be sensitive or painful but please understand that it there is not enough space in this article to more fully elaborate. The best way to evaluate your specific pain would be with a qualified dental professional.
|Clenching or grinding
||Referred pain from your heart|
|Referred muscle pain from temporalis or masseter muscles
||Lack of sleep
|Sugars or processed foods, even fruits
||Tumors or aneurisms|
|Hormone changes including perimenopause, menstrual cycles, and changes in testosterone levels
||Referral headaches from migraines or cluster headaches that change the blood vessels and nerves of the head
Every single tooth is a little organ, and the same blood and lymphatic fluid that flows to and through your heart and all the other organs and systems in your body also flows to and through your teeth. Additionally, there is a complex system of nerves that connect your teeth to your brain, and every tooth is connected to one of the channels of life-force energy most commonly known as the acupuncture meridians. So, when you see the whole picture, you understand that your teeth are affected by what is going on throughout your body, and, of course, your entire body is affected by what is going on in your teeth.
Unfortunately, we usually do not learn about the oral/systemic health connection and the hidden risks of conventional dental practices until after we have developed at least one chronic health problem conventional practitioners do not know how to resolve. I understand it can be hard to believe that established dental practices that have been around for many decades can be obstacles to your good health because it was a challenge for me as well. All biological dental professionals were once traditionally trained. The move away from that training to encompass a wider view is never easy, but vital to our integrity.
Be Your Own Advocate and Become Educated
Changing things for the better begins with questioning the status quo. It ultimately requires that you make better-informed choices so you do not wind up supporting the dysfunctional aspects of the conventional dental and medical establishments. Every time you accept and pay for a treatment, you are in essence saying, "I support this." So please, before paying for a root canal procedure, or for that matter, any other procedure, make sure the problem is not somewhere else and that the pain in your tooth will not subside if you properly address that issue.
The surest path to good health is to become educated (at least in a general way) about the different approaches to dentistry and medicine that are available to you before you actually have to make a choice for you or your children. With this in mind, I encourage you to seek out and create your own network of practitioners — family physician, dentist, and nutritionist, for starters — who have a holistic understanding of health and appreciate the value of working together as a team to meet the health-care needs of you and your children. While finding and creating your own network of holistic practitioners will take some time, it will be time well spent.
My years of practice have taught me that the best way to prevent disease is to build your health. We all have a self-healing potential, which I refer to as "the Health." I'm devoted to helping people learn how dental practices can either improve or damage their health. I want to help you make well-informed choices that support your health in body, mind and spirit. You certainly do have choices to make, especially avoiding unnecessary root canal procedures.
The holistic physician Dr. Thomas Rau, in his comprehensive book, Biological Medicine, says: "The disruptive fields which occur most frequently in the body, causing remote illnesses in other organs, are the teeth. So long as these disruptive factors are not eliminated, the physician will remain unsuccessful in many cases of chronic disease." Ultimately, the tragic consequence of not acknowledging the connection between our teeth, dental treatments, and our overall health is no attention is given to the real cause of — and curative treatment for — many chronic health problems.
Powerful Strategies to Consider Before a Root Canal
When you have pain in your leg, arm, stomach, eyes, or any body part, hopefully you are not advised to kill the nerves of the area to shut off the pain. While this is obvious for these body parts, this advice is not obvious, and certainly not routine in your mouth. Most conventional practitioners have accepted the idea of killing a tooth even though it causes a poisonous environment that harbors pathologic bugs and disease. If a tooth is sensitive or hurting, the following are some of my recommendations before agreeing and paying for a root canal procedure:
||Proper oral hygiene
||Stress management |
||Local support for the tooth such as adjusting an ill-fitting restoration, a splint or mouth guard, decay and more|
||Traditional osteopathic treatment and support|
All of the above can buy time for your immune system to recover allowing your tooth to heal. In trying to support and encourage my patients' own healing capabilities, and based on my studies, I will tell you that, without a doubt, what you are eating and drinking every day has a huge influence on the health of your teeth and gums. Even more, it is essential for us to appreciate that good nutrition contributes to the structure and function of every cell in our bodies.
I want to do all I can to make sure my patients and readers of this article understand the importance of developing the right nutrition habits in order to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. Nutrition can also support you while your tooth is healing from a metabolic, physical, or emotional injury. In that respect, I firmly agree with Dr. Mercola's nutrition plan. If you haven't had a chance to review it, please do as it is completely free and over 100 pages. It is divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced sections so you can easily customize it for yourself
There is absolutely no question that making a commitment to self-care practices to help to prevent tooth decay in the first place is an example of wisdom in action. Except for a tooth injured by some type of physical trauma, a tooth that has had a root canal procedure, also had some degree of decay.
Prevention Is the BEST Option for Avoiding Root Canals
To prevent the need for root canal treatments, you must eliminate tooth decay through proper oral hygiene and good nutrition. Proper oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings are preventative measures that help to remove the sticky plaque and calcified deposits that form on the surface of teeth and helps to minimize the impact of many individuals' nutritionally poor and sugar rich diets. I have learned, and so I teach, that faithfully practicing good nutritional habits is, without a doubt, the most important preventative measure, because tooth decay is a consequence of systemic metabolic disturbance.
As Dr. Weston Price wrote in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, "...when teeth are decaying, other things are going wrong in the body"! To achieve optimal oral and total body health, your teeth and the rest of your body needs you to choose high-quality foods that are in harmony with your metabolism. It is also absolutely essential to eliminate all sources of refined and processed sugar, white flour products, soft drinks, and all other "junk" foods and beverages. The wisdom is actually very simple: give your body what it needs and avoid hurting yourself with what you are eating and drinking!
A wise but simple oral hygiene practice that can be very supportive in helping you to have healthy teeth and gums, is the practice of "oil pulling." This wonderful practice not only has preventive value, but also therapeutic value for teeth and gums. Choosing to keep a dead tooth in your mouth can put you at increased risk of a variety of health problems. So, if a dentist recommends a root canal procedure to "save" your tooth from being pulled, remember to ask yourself, "How will I be affected if I have a dead, chronically infected tooth in my mouth?" Or "Do I really need this root canal?" Perhaps the tooth can heal without the unnecessary root canal procedure.
When I graduated from dental school, I took an oath that to this day encourages me. The oath said in part: "I will strive to advance my profession by seeking new knowledge and by re-examining the ideas and practices of the past." I hope that oath guides you, as well as me, on this journey toward making choices that will support your health. I hope it will encourage you, your family and the community to help forge a new dental and medical "Paradigm."
Resources to Help You Find a Biological Dentist
If you are seriously considering any of the dental procedures discussed above it is best to have them performed by a biologic dentist. The following organizations can help you to find a mercury-free, biological dentist that would best serve your needs:
About the Author:
Dr. Lina Garcia is a Doctor of Medical Dentistry as well as a Doctor of Dental Surgery. She has been dedicated to the research and teaching of alternative solutions for conventional dentistry. Dr. Garcia has published several articles and is soon releasing her first book, "Take Care of Your Teeth and Build Your Health." She has trained around the world and is excited to be able to offer holistic services at her practice. She sees patients from all over the United States and worldwide, in her South Barrington, IL office