The term “Root canal” is used to describe the cavity that naturally exists at the center of the tooth where the nerve is seated. The soft area within the root canal is referred to as the pulp or pulp chamber. When a tooth becomes damaged due to decay, trauma or some other issue, a dentist or a specialist called an endodontist may elect to perform a root canal, essentially carving out the center of the tooth into the root, removing the nerve and pulp while leaving the tooth intact.
The Problem with Root Canals
A Root Canal is intended to “save” a tooth… but does it?
Teeth have roots with main canals and thousands of microscopic side channels which contain literally miles of sensitive nerves that work to keep a healthy tooth alive. When a root canal is performed the nerve is removed from the main canal; however the microscopic side channels, which are mostly inaccessible nerves, get left behind and those will subsequently die and begin to decay.
Although the dentist may try to clean out and sterilize the areas left behind after the pulp and nerve is extracted, it is impossible to remove all of the tissue and debris. Even antibiotics won’t help because the emergent bacteria become encapsulated and protected inside the dead tooth.
This scenario creates a perfect environment for anaerobic bacteria, which thrive in the tiny spaces and canals. These bacteria excrete a toxic byproduct from digesting dead tissue and over time this toxic waste can lead to chronic infection. This happens when the byproducts or toxic chemicals are carried into the body through the blood supply and lymphatic system.
A relatively young and healthy person may have a strong enough immune system to deal with the toxic byproducts on a daily basis, but as a person ages the immune system tends to weaken and can be compromised due to environmental or other health issues, and then the toxins can create severely negative effects on the body. Eventually organ systems throughout the body can be affected, quite possibly leading to chronic diseases, which have been linked to this process, including:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Various types of cancers
- Musculoskeletal diseases
- Irritable bowel diseases such as Crohn’s Disease
Alternatives to Root Canal
Alternatives include taking precautions to avoid severe dental issues that might lead to infection or decay of the teeth. Caring for your teeth by adopting and following good oral hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing routinely followed by regular visits to your dentist will help to ensure that your teeth stay healthy and free from the inflammation and infection that can lead to a root canal procedure.
The only real alternative to a root canal procedure is to have the tooth extracted and replaced with a bridge, implant, or removable partial denture to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. If the damage to the tooth has gone on too long causing serious symptoms such as toothache or swelling, the healthiest option is to extract the tooth and replace it. However, root canal procedures are all too often recommended for the wrong reasons particularly when other possible problems or treatment options have not been thoroughly explored. Removing the nerve to eliminate sensation or feeling to the tooth may make it seem like the problem has been solved, but if the source of the pain, inflammation or infection has not been properly diagnosed, the real issue has not been addressed, and that in turn may create a whole new scope of issues for the patient to deal with later on.
If you have been told you need a root canal your best option is to get a second opinion. In some cases your holistic dental practitioner will be able to find an alternative to root canal treatment or extraction. If that is not possible, we can assist you in finding a technically excellent endodontist who treats root canals to make sure that the root canal treatment is done in such a way as to minimize toxicity of the tooth for a longer period of time. However, surgical extraction using biological methods is still the most complete way to rid the body of this problem.