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Could a Root Canal Be the Cause of Your Chronic Health Problem?

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

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Story at-a-glance -

  • Root canal treated teeth may harbor harmful microbes, the toxic metabolic waste products of which can have systemic health impacts and contribute to a variety of chronic diseases
  • The Netflix documentary “Root Cause” interviews doctors and dentists who believe many health problems can be traced back to these hidden dental infections
  • The key problem when you have a root canal performed is that the tooth has died but remains in the body. It’s well-known you cannot leave a dead organ in your body or it will cause severe infection
  • Even if the root of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned out, it’s physically impossible to get all the pathogens out of the microtubules, and the waste material from these bacteria is extremely toxic
  • Infection caused by a root canal has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, but may play a role in many other conditions as well, including chronic fatigue and chronic pain

Root canal treated teeth may harbor harmful microbes, the toxic metabolic waste products of which can have systemic health impacts and contribute to a variety of chronic diseases.

The Netflix documentary “Root Cause” investigates these issues, interviewing doctors and dentists around the world, including yours truly (although briefly), who believe many health problems can be traced back to these infected teeth. Interviewed medical professionals include:

Dr. David Minkoff

Dawn Ewing, Ph.D., author of “Let the Tooth Be Known”

Dr. Greg Emerson

Cardiologist Thomas E. Levy, co-author of “The Toxic Tooth: How a Root Canal Could Be Making You Sick

Dr. Stuart Nunnally, DDS

Dr. Lane Freeman, DDS

Dr. Gerald H. Smith, DDS

Dr. Bradley Nelson, author of “The Body Code”

Dr. Thomas Rau, medical director of the Paracelsus Academy1 in Switzerland, a leading center for alternative medicine in Europe, including biological dentistry

Dr. Mark A. Steiner, DDS, who specializes in whole-body dentistry

Dr. Jerry Tennant

Dr. Candice Owens, DDS

The film details the personal experiences of film director Frazer Bailey (played by actor Ben Purser), who spent a decade trying to track down the root cause of his chronic anxiety, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and insomnia. A trailer is included above. The full film is available on Netflix. For those of you who don’t have access to Netflix, you can view my previous video on root canals.

Root Canals Are a Source of Chronic Infection

As explained in the film, the key problem with a root canal is that the tooth has died but remains in the body. It’s well-known you cannot leave a dead organ in your body or it will cause severe infection.

There’s really no reason to imagine a dead tooth wouldn’t cause the same kind of problem. Teeth are living structures with blood supply flowing through them. Even if the root is cleaned out well, it’s impossible to get the bacteria out of the microtubules, and the waste material from these bacteria is extremely toxic. Tennant says:

“Perhaps one of the world’s leading authorities on biological toxins is Boyd Haley [Ph.D.] at the University of Kentucky.2 What Haley found and published is that toxins from a root canaled tooth are equal in toxicity to the standard by which all biological toxins are measured, namely hydrogen sulfide. He also found that the toxins from a root canaled tooth are equal in toxicity to botulism poisoning.”

(On a side note, I interviewed Haley late last year and should be posting that interview in the near future.) Unfortunately, since the root has been cleaned out and nerve endings have been cut, you can no longer sense pain in that tooth. Hence you may not notice the fact that you have an infection festering under and around the tooth. As a result, a root canaled tooth may serve as a fount of infection-causing bacteria that then get circulated through your body via your bloodstream.

As noted by Smith, a dentist, your teeth are made up of the same tissue as your sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve tissue, so it’s important to realize that your teeth are part of your biology and cannot be separated from it. Any toxins originating in your mouth will be transported via your lymphatic system through your thyroid, thymus, heart and the rest of your body.

The pulp of your tooth is also closely interconnected with your lymph system and autonomic system — more so than any other organ, according to Rau. Your teeth are also energetically connected to and will affect your meridians, used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Toxic Teeth Linked to Heart Disease

The BaleDoneen Method,3 a cardiovascular health strategy provided by the Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center, emphasizes the need to avoid root canals, as the bacteria produced are known to affect cardiovascular health. Levy, a cardiologist and author of “The Toxic Tooth” says:

“My pet peeve as a cardiologist right now is that so many family practitioners, internal medicine practitioners, my fellow cardiologists, see a patient who has a heart attack, and they find the cholesterol is OK, lipids are OK, there’s no high blood pressure, there are no risk factors, and they might not use these words with the patient, but they say that person just had bad luck.”

In Levy’s view, the often-overlooked source of these heart attacks are infected root canaled teeth. A Finnish study4 published in 2016 seems to confirm such suspicions, finding that hidden tooth infections may indeed predispose certain individuals to heart disease.

In this case, they did not focus on infected root canals, rather those with apical periodontitis, an infection in the dental pulp at the root of the tooth, typically caused by caries. According to study author Dr. John Liljestrand, “Acute coronary syndrome is 2.7 times more common among patients with untreated teeth in need of root canal treatment than among patients without this issue.”5

However, if a caries-induced infection has the ability to nearly triple your risk of heart disease, it seems reasonable that a chronic infection around a dead tooth would be just as bad, if not worse, since the tooth is necrotic and therefore likely to be even more toxic.

So, while this study suggests the answer is to perform a root canal on the tooth with an infected pulp, the reality is that the root canal will not solve the problem and may actually make it worse. In another, albeit small, study,6 researchers investigated whether root canals and removal of wisdom teeth might indeed contribute to chronic inflammation. According to the authors:

“[C]hemokine overexpression in the jawbone connected to root canaled teeth seems to be a possible danger for immune preservation, which is needed to maintain a balanced system and to prevent different types of systemic diseases.

Improper wound healing in old extraction sites and underneath root canaled teeth might also provoke immune modulation, which hinders the restoration of an already disease-modified immune system.”

Anecdotal Cancer Story — Throat Cancer Cleared by Removing Root Canaled Teeth

Cancer may also be triggered by infected teeth. Rau claims that 97 percent of the breast cancer patients between the ages of 30 and 70 tested at the Paracelsus Academy in Switzerland, where he is medical director, were found to have “a root canal or a toxic situation in their teeth.”

Similarly, Tennant claims 96 percent of the last 60 cancer patients seen in his practice were found to have an infected tooth. Smith, meanwhile, recounts the story of one of his dental patients who came in with Stage 4 throat cancer. Smith observed the cancer was situated near two root canaled teeth.

He removed the two teeth and treated the extraction site with ozone. The patient was also given some homeopathic remedies and ionic silver to take. In three weeks, the cancer had completely resolved, and the remission was confirmed with blood work, PET scans and visual inspection. “This is the impact of toxic root canaled teeth,” Smith says.

All Root Canals Are a Source of Infection to Some Degree

According to Rau, root canals are “sources of infection, without any exception.” To support this claim, the medical experts in the film cite a number of toxicological investigations that found 100 percent of extracted root canaled teeth were in fact laden with hazardous bacteria.

As noted by Levy, “The science shows that root canals are always infected. The only differentiation is some are a little more toxic and infected than other ones.” The reason why not everyone with a root canal suffers in noticeable ways has to do with the fact that the response to toxins vary from person to person. Some are constitutionally “hardier” than others to begin with. Your overall toxic load from other environmental exposures also comes into play.

Removing a Root Canaled Tooth Must Be Done Properly

While removing a root canaled tooth may be the answer in some cases, this must not be done willy-nilly. You need to make sure your dentist understands the implications and is familiar with holistic dental procedures. To locate a biological (holistic) dentist, see the listing below.

Extracting the tooth is just the first step. Next, the area must be drained and cleaned of bacteria. Ozone gas is by many holistic dentists considered indispensable during this step, as the gas is able to permeate the bone and gum tissue, killing the infection. The periodontal ligament also needs to be removed in order to allow for the jawbone to properly regrow and completely seal the hole where the tooth was.

If the extraction site is not meticulously cleaned and disinfected (and this goes for any tooth extraction, not just root canaled teeth), a cavitation — a pocket in the jawbone filled with bacteria — may form. Failure to remove the periodontal ligament also contributes to cavitations by preventing the bone from properly regrowing.

After the root canaled tooth has been extracted, you’ll want to allow your jawbone to heal completely. In most cases, this will take at least three months. Once your dentist has confirmed that there’s no cavitation, you can proceed with dental replacement.

As noted in the film, there are a number of options for how to replace the missing tooth at this point, including the following. To learn more about these options, see “Safer and Healthier Alternatives to Root Canals and Other Common Tooth Restoration Techniques.”

Not replacing the tooth.

A removable bridge.

A traditional bridge, which requires creating crowns for the teeth on each side of the missing tooth. A significant drawback to this is that you’re sacrificing two (in many cases) healthy teeth, and increasing the risk of those teeth needing a root canal later on. What’s more, the average bridge lasts only eight years, with a range of five to 15 years.

A resin-bonded bridge, also known as a Maryland bridge, which holds the pontic (false tooth) in place by bonding a frame to the backside of the adjoining teeth.

This is the preferred option by many holistic dentists as it does not involve damaging the adjacent teeth. A drawback is that the bridge is only as strong as the adhesive, so it may detach and need to be rebonded from time to time. It’s also not suitable for missing molars due to the forces placed on the bridge during chewing.

An implant-supported bridge, which can be a good option in cases where two or more adjacent teeth are missing.

An implant — Traditional implants have used titanium, but today there are also zirconia (a type of ceramic) implants. Titanium can in some cases trigger autoimmune problems. There is a blood test7 to help determine this sensitivity.

Being a metal, titanium can also contribute to galvanic currents in your mouth, and will distort the energy flow in the meridian flowing through that tooth. While most people do not notice galvanic currents, others experience unexplained nerve shocks, ulcerations, a salty or metallic taste or a burning sensation in their mouth. Galvanic currents may also contribute to insomnia, brain fog, ear-ringing, epilepsy and dizziness.

What’s more, if you drink fluoridated water or use fluoridated toothpaste, it is important to know that fluoride severely accelerates the corrosion of titanium. Low pH in your mouth due to acidity or dry mouth further accelerates this effect.8

Your best option for an implant is to use a zirconia implant. Zirconia is considered far more biocompatible and is typically recommended by holistic dentists.

Carefully Consider Your Options

In my video on root canals, posted above, I discuss some of the health effects I suffered from an infected tooth, which were resolved after having the tooth extracted. It’s important to recognize that the reason you get cavities and/or infected teeth in the first place is related to your diet, primarily eating too much sugar. If your diet is inadequate, your immune function will be compromised, and if your immune system is weakened, the bacteria’s ability to wreak havoc is magnified.

Now, should you happen to have one or more root canaled teeth, this does not mean you have to rush to extract them. It does mean, however, that it would be wise to remember this fact should you start to experience a chronic health problem, and to take it into consideration when deciding on a treatment plan for a chronic health issue.

Also, if you’re considering having a root canal done, evaluate the data and your personal situation, such as your health risks, before making your decision. I would also suggest considering ozone therapy before getting a root canal or tooth extraction done.

Ozone therapy is typically administered through a syringe, right into or around to the base of the tooth. Multiple visits are usually needed to address the infection. Ozone is directly toxic to infectious material, and it also stimulates your immune system. I was able to prevent a root canal by using ozone therapy. It took about five treatments. It’s safe, nontoxic, and relatively inexpensive, so it may be worth considering before taking more drastic measures.

That said, if the pulp tissue has completely died due to infection, nothing, including ozone, will bring the tooth back to life, at which point a root canal or extraction are your only options.