Is a Root Canal Procedure Ever Safe?

Say the words root canal procedure, and everyone has a story - if not their own, then a woeful tale from someone else. Not anyone's idea of fun, but it works. Or does it?

Tooth infection in a failed root canal procedure

The idea is certainly noble. Remove the tooth infection but save the tooth. The question is, What kind of tooth remains?  The root canal tooth pictured here was later pulled and smelled just as bad as it looks. Not exactly the picture of health! (You can read the full story in James Pang's blog.)

Teeth needing a root canal procedure do not have your average dental caries, which are areas where the enamel has eroded and formed holes (cavities). Dental caries caught in time can be filled - preferably with a safe material, not mercury amalgam.

Not Just Damaged... Dead!

But if extensive decay or injury causes nerve damage, you lose blood supply to the tooth. And keeping that tooth alive becomes impossible. With no blood supply, you can't even reach the infection. And with dead nerves, the tooth can painlessly rot.

What does produce pain, swelling, and sometimes bone erosion is when infection squeezes between tooth and jawbone, causing an abscess. 

Does a Root Canal Procedure Heal a Tooth?

When you have a tooth infection, getting a root canal can seem appealing. Just remove the diseased pulp, clean out the canal, fill it, and top with a dental filling or crown.

You get to keep your tooth, so your mouth looks and functions the same. But the tooth you keep is still dead. And saving a dead tooth hides a sickening secret.

Hidden Infection Just Beyond Reach

The issue that went undetected for many years is the minute shrinkage of the root filling which allows germs to slip into the damaged tooth interior and populate the microscopic tubules. The nourishing fluid that once filled the tubules is gone in a dead tooth, and this allows germs to create an ongoing source of infection.

Infection Spreads in the Body

Germs from an infection in one location, such as a tooth, metastasize and establish infection elsewhere in the body. This is known as focal infection theory.

A Root Canal Tooth Is an Infected Tooth

It is believed that every root-filled tooth is infected. Individuals with a strong immune system can remain relatively healthy despite undergoing this procedure, but the ongoing burden of live infection does take its toll.

Weston Price, DDS discovered these root canal infections in a 25-year research program, which was later covered up. You can read the story in Root Canal Cover-Up by George E. Meinig, DDS, FACD.

Dr. Hal Huggins Explains the Danger of Root Canals

What Are the Alternatives?

Tooth extraction is not necessarily a bad thing. You may not need to replace the tooth if it is far enough back. And there are other solutions such as bridges or partials that can recreate the look of natural teeth.

If you have already had a root canal and have chronic health problems, you would be wise to visit a holistic dentist for advice - sooner rather than later.

A holistic or biological dentist can determine the level of infection, evaluate bone erosion or other damage, explain your options, and perform whatever procedures you need with your safety and healthy outcome in mind. 

Should You Root Out Your Root Canals?

Every situation is different, and a qualified dentist can clarify your decision-making process. Just making the appointment can remove a lot of anxiety.

If infection in your mouth is indeed destroying your health, there will be steps you can take. or not take. Knowing is half the battle, and this is one battle you definitely want to win.

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