Strong Immune System | Natural Health Blog

Date: 12/04/2008    Written by: Jon Barron

Root Canal Pushed in Spite of Toxicity

Root Canal, Tooth Implants, Toxicity

A new study just published in The Journal of Endodontics has found that root canals require less follow-up care than tooth implants, although the success rate for the two procedures is about equal. While root canals endeavor to save sick teeth so they don't need extraction, implants replace troubled or extracted teeth with new ones. Both procedures cost plenty and cause considerable discomfort, but the alternative is plain extraction, which many patients and dentists prefer to avoid.

The research, out of the University of Alabama, concludes that patients who are faced with the loss of a tooth should opt for the root canal to save it, rather than choosing a tooth implant. Says the lead researcher, Dr. James Porter Hannahan, "While the success of both procedures is similar, saving the natural tooth through a root canal rarely requires follow-up treatment and generally lasts a lifetime; implants, on the other hand, have more post-operative complications and higher long-term failure."

In the study, 129 patients received dental implants and 143 underwent root canals. Follow-up occurred between a year-and-a-half and five years after treatment. Only 2.6 percent of the dental implants had failed in that time, and only .7 percent of the root canals. But 12.4 percent of the dental implants required additional intervention, in contrast to only 1.4 percent of the root canals. Plus, while root canals typically cost between $500 and $1500 per tooth (plus another thousand or so for a crown), dental implants can cost much more. Although they typically fall between $1200 and $3000 per tooth, implants can go as high as $6000 or even $15,000.

Based on this data, it would seem that, as Dr. Hannahan says, root canals are the solution of choice -- they cost less and "generally last a lifetime" without further ado.

However...

When Dr. Hannahan and his peers state that root canals are virtually trouble free, it seems they mean "trouble free" for them -- not necessarily for you. Their claim does not account for the post-root canal toxicity that can plague you for the rest of your life. As I've written in Lessons from the Miracle Doctors (Chapter 12),root canals remove the nerve and infected pulp from the tooth, then sterilize the adjoining canals and seal and refill them so that they can't get re-infected. But in sealing off the canals, the procedure also seals off the miles of microscopic tubules that run through the tooth's dentin. These tubules normally have a nutrient-dense fluid running through them. When the tubules get sealed off, the fluid stops running and whatever remains in the tubules stays trapped there. In 100 percent of all root canals, that means at least some bacteria remain, no matter how much sterilizing the dentist does, because it's virtually impossible to sterilize three miles of empty tubules. Research shows that no disinfectant can remove all the infection, nor can antibiotics reach the bacteria remaining in the tubules once the blood flow to the tooth has stopped.

Trapped inside the tooth cavity, with no blood flow to help with drainage or to carry the body's natural immune factors to the infected site, bacteria multiply and mutate. Plus, they eventually find their way out of the permeable tooth membrane and "ride" the bloodstream to a new site within the body. Every root canal leaks, which means that all patients who have ever had a root canal have increased their chances of developing continual low-grade infections and other chronic conditions -- for life. This is why many natural healthcare practitioners, myself included, recommend avoiding root canals at all costs.

While dental implants may require a bit more fiddling and a bit more money, they probably have less toxic effects. To complete an implant, the patient has a tooth extracted, and then undergoes three or so surgeries to have a titanium post inserted into the jaw. The post basically replaces the tooth root, and a tooth is then affixed to it. The process sounds barbaric, but probably hurts no more than a root canal. While the procedure has a reputation for being safe and often is preferred by holistic practitioners because of the reduced toxicity, some unsettling new research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association indicates a potential, though rare (very rare, if at all), link between oral implants and several forms of oral cancer. You can't win.

Which brings us to the quandary of what to do if your tooth aches and the dentist says you need a root canal. Your best bet is probably to take care of your teeth and gums in the first place so you can avoid a "damned if you do/damned if you don't" choice. (Then again, if there even is a cancer problem with dental implants, it's extremely rare.)

If you already have root canals in place, you can consider having them removed, particularly if you're experiencing lots of infections or chronic health problems -- but it's essential to find a dentist well acquainted with the removal process and with a sterling track record. Root canals removed sloppily can cause more trouble than the root canal itself.

:hc

Comments

  •  
    Submitted by Cynthia Duke on
    February 17, 2009 - 12:59pm

    In replacing mercury fillings, is there any safe alternative. A dentist told me that all the composite resins have BPA's in them and I don't want implants or crowns. It seems everything is toxic to some extent.

  •  
    Submitted by Jon Barron on
    January 9, 2009 - 1:22pm

    Then keep your immune system optimized since it's likely until constant low level assault.

  •  
    Submitted by Kris Peterson on
    December 22, 2008 - 12:07am

    I am a dental hygienist and have been for 30 some years. I do not have any root canals but if the situation presented itself I think I would choose extraction. What I would not choose is to implant a titanium post in my jaw as there is something very unnatural about that process. I don't have proof of cancer occurrence due to Titanium posts but one needs to just listen to your common sense. Does it make any sense to place a foreign body in your body if you don't have to? Absolutely not!
    Just as with your health the best thing to do is take care of the teeth you have, eat a healthy diet low in sugar and acid, stay away from soda pop, brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day or whenever you have debris caught between your teeth.

  •  
    Submitted by Leon on
    December 18, 2009 - 3:25pm

    I have a deteriorated condition in my uppers and lowers and I have little chewing surface left. I am frequently in pain now and I have to make a decision. I have learned that dentures have only 15% of the chewing power of natural teeth, and am seriously considering implants, maybe mini-implants with connecting bridges. My dentist told me a year ago that I then had only a marginal amount of bone left to support implants. The costs of implants, if I can even have them, are very high, and I have not found any holistic or biological dental recommendations re implants. Thank you for any information you can provide.

  •  
    Submitted by Mary Kenny on
    January 9, 2009 - 12:09pm

    I had a root canal about 4 years ago. Thanks to my horse Jack who all but knocked out an upper center incisor it was just barely hanging on. It happened on a weekend, after two emergency rooms (So much for living in a smell town) I was sent to a dentist that had to be called in and my tooth was pushed back in and splinted into place. She urged me to get a root canal. I guess for every minute your tooth is out of place it's a percentage that the tooth will die. If I had only known! All I should have done is push my own tooth back in. I should have just waited and not had the root canal. What would you do short of having this tooth pulled and getting an implant if it were you.

  •  
    Submitted by Kortni on
    January 3, 2011 - 4:58pm

    I just had three of my root canal teeth extracted. I was 8 when I had my first root canal and now at 25 I have cirrhosis… Anyways, I put pictures on my blog of just how rotten your teeth can get underneath that seemingly harmless crown. It literally makes me sick to think they were in my mouth.

  •  
    Submitted by Guest on
    July 31, 2011 - 11:42am

    Gross. However, this makes a case for nothing unless a professional knows exactly the treatment done, and who did it. I am in the dental profession and there are only about 10% of dentists that I would let come near me. For the lay person? Most are getting a lot of "crappy" dentistry!

  •  
    Submitted by amanda on
    February 22, 2013 - 2:33pm

    I suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (M.E.) and have just discovered that i have a chronic root canal infection around my front tooth which has been crowned since i was a child. my dentist wants to do a root canal filling but i now have a massive dilema whether to go ahead or have an implant- does anyone have any advice or know of another option with less health/ toxicity risks? advice much appreciated

  •  
    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    February 22, 2013 - 6:14pm

    I would read Jon Barron's chapter on dental health in his book, "Lessons From The Miracle Doctors."  He has a special section on root canals and implants.  You can download his abridged version for free here:  http://www.jonbarron.org/read

  •  
    Submitted by John Eisel on
    April 19, 2013 - 11:21am

    I have a severe overbite and have worn down my lower front teeth. My bite is being restored with crowns but there are 2 teeth that can't be saved because there is not enough tooth left for a crown so I need either root canals implants. My dentist has explained the differences but is not recommending either choice leaving the decision up to me. I don't know what to do.

  •  
    Submitted by Carri on
    May 14, 2013 - 4:12pm

    I've been disabled with CFIDS/ME (Chronic Immune Dysfunction) and Post Orthostatic Tachycardia. We just found that I have had three chronic infections under old root canals, probably since my teens or longer. I was getting ear pain, which led to many rounds of antibiotics in my teens and it contributed greatly to me being disabled. We never knew it was the teeth. And finally, they recently became so infected that it showed up and I got them pulled. I believe every article I've read about the dangers of root canals now. I was always told how perfectly safe they were and that once it was done, you never got pain in that tooth again. It was all a fraud. I believe the root canals set me up for a lifetime of chronic immune dysfunction and disability. They should be banned.

  •  
    Submitted by Bob on
    October 29, 2013 - 9:20pm

    Comments along the lines of "really your best option is to keep your teeth and gums in good shape so you never face this problem" are, frankly, irritating. Yes, we know this is the best option. We know that full well. The reason we're reading this (many of us) is to find out what to do when it's no longer an option.

  •  
    Submitted by Jennifer on
    September 26, 2014 - 11:28am

    Amen, Bob--amen.

  •  
    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    September 30, 2014 - 12:27pm

    Hi Bob,

    We have a lot of research on our site about what to do, plus a dedicated chapter on dental health in Jon Barron's book.  This blog is just posting the current news.  If you want more "how to information," just read his book that we offer as a free download or search our site for the articles you would like.

  •  
    Submitted by james on
    December 7, 2015 - 11:16am
    New Hampshire

    I dont believe it to be coincidence that 6 months after getting my first root canal done, I have had heart Arrhythmias 5 years since. How to proceed now is the question with so few teeth to spare.

  •  
    Submitted by Chris & Tom Breese on
    August 21, 2018 - 8:30pm
    Covina , California

    Implant technology’s advanced a bit since the original article — any thoughts about ceramic posts? Seems they’d be the least bio-reactive of the three choices (stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic).

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