This month I would like to discuss root canals. This is an interesting topic especially as it relates to Whole-Body Dentistry.
Let’s first talk about the structure of a tooth
A tooth has enamel on the outside of what is called the crown of the tooth; this is the part of the tooth visible above the gum. Under this is dentin. Covering the roots of the tooth is cementum. The enamel and dentin are made of thousands of tubules. Inside the center of the tooth is the pulp – this is composed of the nerve, lymphatic and blood tissue.
When the pulp becomes irrevocably inflamed or the nerve dies, a root canal procedure is typically recommended. It is this pulp tissue that is removed during root canal therapy.
Traditionally, a latex material, called gutta percha, is used to fill in the pulpal area. A root canal is then considered successful if there is no pain and upon x-ray, the bone appears normal. It is estimated that almost 170 million root canals are performed each year!
Are root canals bad?
I personally do not think the answer is a definite yes or no. Many holistic dentists are adamantly opposed to root canals and advise patients to extract any tooth that needs one. I feel my responsibility is to educate the patient about the pros and cons of a root canal and to let the patient make an informed decision. Unfortunately, in a typical dental practice not even the dentist knows the downside of root canals, so a patient cannot make a fully educated decision.
What are the pros of doing a root canal?
Really, the only reason to do a root canal is to avoid extraction of the tooth, thereby retaining the tooth in your mouth. This means you do not have to worry about replacing the tooth with bridges or implants.
What are the cons of doing a root canal?
Root canals can fail from a conventional point of view. The tooth may continue to hurt, an abscess may not heal, and on follow-up x-rays a simmering infection may continue to erode bone. Also, because there is no longer a vital pulp with the nourishing blood and lymph, the tooth becomes more brittle and is more prone to fracture.
These are the conventional risks. Note dentistry does not factor in a systemic risk. If the tooth does not hurt and an x-ray looks normal the root canal is considered a success. However, there are definite systemic risks associated with root canals.
There are two ways in which a root canal can cause problems
1. Every tooth is on an acupuncture meridian and a root canal can impede the energy flow along this meridian. This can manifest as a problem with any organ, muscle, or vertebrae associated with the specific meridian.
As an example, Sheryl, a former patient who no longer lived in the area, came in for a second opinion. A root canal which had been done when she was 12 years old on an upper front tooth was now hurting. In updating Sheryl’s medical history, she related that she was having constant terrible pain in her coccyx (tail) bone for the last few months. No one could find a problem and she was scheduled for a CAT Scan.
Energetically, her root canal tooth was on the meridian that relates to the coccyx bone.Sometimes, injecting a few drops of anesthetic around the root canal tooth will give relief to the distant problem, helping to prove a definite relationship. Such was the case here. I injected a little anesthetic around the tooth and for the first time in a few weeks, Sheryl had no tail bone pain. She decided to extract the tooth and has had no problems since. This is a beautiful example of the negative energetic effect of a root canal.
2. Root canaled teeth give off toxins and these toxins can cause a myriad of systemic problems. I would like to give an example that shows both the energetic and toxic aspects of root canals.
Harold presented with a terrible sinus problem. For a year he had been on antibiotics a number of times for sinus infections. Harold would have severe sinus pain – he would feel extreme outward pressure, like his head would explode. Antibiotics would give relief, but soon after stopping them, the problem would be back.
His physician was totally frustrated and advised he see me.
Upon examination and energetic testing, I diagnosed the problem as coming from a root canaled lower molar. I told Harold my findings and the fact that I have seen a lower molar be the cause of many sinus problems. My dental assistant had chronic sinus infections. Since removal of a root canaled lower molar over 10 years ago, she has had no sinus problems.
However, Harold’s tooth was a supporting tooth for a bridge, and removal of the tooth meant losing the bridge and the expense of a new one. I also told him I could be wrong and that he should think about it.
Harold called early the next morning. He had been in pain all night. He said he understood there were no guarantees but he wanted the tooth removed as soon as possible. That afternoon, I extracted Harold’s root canaled tooth. He related that as I removed the tooth, the pressure in his sinus was relieved. He said it was like air coming out of a balloon. Another example of an energetic connection!
Several weeks later, Harold related something very interesting. He is a professional golfer and had been hampered by a shoulder problem which prevented him from competing. He had been to several orthopedic surgeons, begging for surgery to alleviate the problem. None could find anything wrong. A few weeks after the extraction, his shoulder problem miraculously disappeared! Evidently, toxins from the root canaled tooth were the culprit.
It is this toxic aspect of root canals and their systemic effect that I would like to address in more detail in next month’s newsletter.