The American Dental Association (ADA) doesn’t want you to know that a routine root canal can develop into an infection, leading to chronic physical pain throughout your body, emotional suffering, and the decline of your health. The connection between this common dental procedure and mysterious, debilitating health conditions needs to be examined, so that next time you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair, you can make an informed, empowered decision, in alignment with your research, values, and beliefs.
By Jennifer Wolff-Gillispie HWP, LC
Dental care has been part of our personal hygiene for over 9000 years. In addition to soft-bristled animal hair brushes and frayed sticks, quills and bones were once used to pick at the teeth. Powders and poultices made from crushed eggshells, ashes, salt, honey, myrrh, and mint were among the first “toothpastes.”
You might be surprised to learn that early civilizations also employed many of the same procedures we do today with much success; repairing cavities, removing decay, and extracting teeth.
While modern dentistry has utilized new technologies such as x-rays for better diagnostics, the core philosophy of practicing good oral hygiene, and removing diseased teeth, and dead or decaying tissue, to improve oral health goes back millennia.
Although the first recorded endodontic treatment (within the tooth) dates back to 200 BC, when the Romans were believed to have utilized a small bronze wire to insert into the infected tooth, the emerging field of dentistry in the mid–eighteenth century introduced the modern root canal.
Root Canals Begin
Developed and performed by English dentist, Robert Woofendale, with the goal of eliminating bacteria from the infected tooth canal, prohibiting further infection and saving the tooth, this procedure called for cauterization to burn the infected pulp, but stopped short at actually filling the tooth. It would take almost 100 years before the first root canal would be filled with gold.
By 1847, gutta-percha, a “rigid, naturally biologically inert, resilient, electrically non-conductive, thermoplastic latex derived from the tree, particularly from Palaquium gutta,” was used to fill root canals, and continues to be implemented in modern dentistry today.
“Cold Lateral Compaction: As the most commonly taught technique, cold lateral compaction uses scalpel blades, spreaders, and gutta-percha cones to replace defects related to the lateral or side areas of the root channels. Sealers and gutta-percha work in these cases to entomb any remaining infection that cannot be thoroughly assessed.
Lateral canals make up between 27 and 45% of your teeth. They are difficult to irrigate during root canal therapy, making this technique a highly reliable method.
Chemically Plasticized Gutta-Percha: Instead of using carriers or heating devices, chemical solutions such as chloroform, xylol, or eucalyptol to plasticize the gutta-percha are implemented. This method is used for root channels with unusual curvatures and removes the need for heating devices to apply and seal the root channels after irrigation.
McSpadden Thermomechanical Compaction: Thermomechanical compaction works to remove the problem of temperature elevation often found with thermoplasticized gutta-percha techniques and instead uses higher speeds of instrument rotations to speed up the root canal process and prevent the problems of apical leakage of the gutta-percha. However, this method may also cause temperature rises, affecting the quality of the apical seal needed for successful root canal techniques.”
Enter Weston A. Price: Making the Connection Between Nutrition and Oral Health
At the turn of the century, a Cleveland, Ohio dentist, Weston A. Price began doing research to develop methods of treating dental diseases. He not only became a pioneer in using radiographs to study patients' teeth, as well as discovering new techniques to treat problem teeth, he was pivotal in making the connection between nutrition and dental health.
By 1894, he began theorizing that tooth decay was directly related to an individual's diet. He later went on to study non-Western cultures, and found that people eating indigenous diets did not suffer with the rot and dental decay that many Westerners did. It was his belief that heavily processed foods, devoid of nutrition, were the culprits.
Despite the advances most dentists across the country were making in treating infected teeth with root canals, by 1910, Mayo Clinic and Weston Price collaboratively announced that according to their findings, root canals were toxic.
This was a claim the American Dental Association (ADA) quickly denied, but have yet to produce documentation or studies to support their stance. Price, however, published a textbook on the subject in 1922.
As a former research director for the ADA, Price had extensive history studying diseases of the heart, uterus, nervous system, kidneys, and endocrine system, as well as systemic disease that were believed to be caused from the toxic seepage from infected teeth that had previously filled root canals.
From Good Health Clinic, Suzanne Jeffery writes “A Rabbit’s Tale a.k.a. Getting To The Root Cause”:
“Dr. Price was used to placing root fillings in patients since the early 1900s but had become suspicious that they remained chronically infected. One day, he [was] determined to put this to the test with one of his female patients. This lady was crippled with arthritis and had been confined to a wheelchair for six years.
She had a root filling which seemed fine, but Dr. Price advised her to have it removed as he felt it held a clue to her chronic suffering. She consented and immediately Dr. Price had extracted the tooth, he implanted it under the skin of a rabbit. Within two days, the rabbit developed the same kind of crippling arthritis suffered by the patient and died after 10 days…
Like the start of many great scientific discoveries, the success of this initial experiment led to a meticulous 25 year research project during which Dr. Price repeated his initial experiment hundreds of times, removing root-filled teeth from sick patients and implanted them under the skin of rabbits (chosen because they have similar immune systems to humans).
In almost every case, the rabbits developed the same or similar disease as the patient and died within three to [twelve] days. His research discoveries are recorded in two large volumes, published in 1923, which can still be read on the internet.
In them, Dr. Price documents case after case of different diseases (heart, kidney, nervous system, arthritis, gastro-intestinal, mental, and more) where patients got well after root canal extraction and rabbits contacted similar diseases after tooth implantation and died. Dr Price describes the suffering of his patients from diseases caused by infected root fillings as “a living death more horrible than any inquisitor’s rack.”
Dr. Price demonstrated the ease with which cultures taken from dental infections can produce significant changes in blood chemistry. These involve changes in clotting function or in the walls of the blood vessels, resulting in multiple [hemorrhages] in specific tissues or throughout the body.”
Dr. Hal Huggins Steps In
Hal Huggins, D.D.S. continued the work of Dr. Price by doing DNA testing on root canal teeth. From “Root Canal Dangers: DNA Studies Confirm Dr. Weston Price’s Century-Old Findings:
“Our first DNA studies examined bacteria retrieved from crushed root tips. We can identify eighty-three different anaerobic bacterial species with DNA testing. Root canals contain fifty three different species out of these eighty three samples. Some are more dangerous than others and some occur frequently, some occasionally. Selecting those that occur more than 5 percent of the time, we found: Capnocytophaga ochracea, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Gemella morbillorum, Leptotrichia buccalis, Porphyromonas gingivalis.
Of what significance are these? Four affect the heart, three the nerves, two the kidneys, two the brain and one the sinus cavities. Shouldn’t we question the wisdom of supplying a haven for these microbes so close to our brain and circulatory system? Does this information validate the claims of “sterile” root canals?”
Dr. Huggins goes on to explain:
“A hapten is a small molecule that can elicit an immune response only when attached to a larger carrier such as a protein; the carrier may be one that also does not elicit an immune response by itself. In general only large molecules, infectious agents or insoluble foreign matter can elicit an immune response in the body.
Healthy cells have a code imprinted on them. It is called the Major Histo-compatibility Complex (MHC). This is your personal code called “self”... Lately, it has become evident that toxins from anaerobic bacteria have the same ability to create non-self autoimmune diseases by interfering with the MHC. This is the project that Dr. Price began to study a century ago.”
Since Dr. Price's discoveries, more dentists, doctors and medical professionals are becoming aware of the health concerns of root canals. Shocking that modern dentistry is the only medical profession that still leaves this dead organ in your body, and will not disclose the obvious threat to your health. Here's what Doctors From Beyond had to say:
“In a root canal treated tooth, most of the nerve is removed. However, countless minute tubules leading from the central nerve canal remain untreated. The average tooth contains over three miles of these tubules making it physically impossible to clean them all and sterilize the tooth. Debris collects, tissue putrefies and becomes infected, and bacteria flourish. The resultant production of toxic gasses and solutions from these chronic infections challenge the immune system and can lead to illness.”
Could it be that with over 25 million root canals performed annually in the United States alone, with an average cost of $1,000 each, and dentistry being a billion dollar industry in America, the ADA is unwilling to abandon procedures deemed dangerous?
We can hope that informed and dedicated practitioners continue to deliver the truth to consumers until the regulatory agencies follow suit. Some of the champions who’ve stepped forward to warn us about the health concerns of root canals were featured in the 2019 documentary, “Root Cause.”
A Film That’ll Knock Your Socks Off
“Root Cause,” follows the true story of a man struggling with serious health challenges after a root canal ten years previous. Unable to solve the mystery of his fading health, a fortuitous meeting hinting that the source of his problem was his infected root canal, led him to seek out information and the answers he needed.
The film features interviews with world renowned authorities in the fields of dentistry and natural health. Dr. Dawn Ewing, Ph.D., stated:
“What if I could tell you that 98% of women that have breast cancer have a root canal tooth on the same side as their offending breast cancer.”
Piques your curiosity, right?
This statement is supported by the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) view that every tooth has a corresponding acupuncture meridian which relates to different organs and tissues in the body.
Functional biological dentist, and leading dental surgeon, Dr. Lane Freeman D.D.S. had this to say:
“The reason that root canals have an inherent problem is that because we know that nowhere else in the body can we leave dead tissue. Anywhere else in the body… your appendix dies… you have dead tissue that doesn’t heal in any other area of the body, we know we have to remove that because it’s a haven for bacteria and it is not compatible with health. And the same is true in a tooth. A tooth is a living structure.
It has a blood supply, it has a nerve supply and so when a tooth dies or becomes infected and we decide to go in and do a root canal, even the best endodontist (a root canal specialist) can do a great job at cleaning out the main canal of any of the teeth, but what they can’t get to are all of these thousands of tubules you can see if you cut a tooth in half or under a microscope you can see these thousands of tubules that run out in every different direction at all sorts of angles off from the main canal.”
Minimize Stress by Taking Practical Next Steps
Let’s say your dentist recommends you get a root canal; what might your options be? First, you can consult with a holistic or biological dentist to see if there is anything that can be done to treat and save your tooth. These doctors consider the whole body, while employing non-conventional and traditional strategies for treatment.
Second, you can educate yourself on how your oral health impacts your overall health, and how nutrition and self-care rituals are key to both. There are numerous books/articles on the topic to help you better understand the interconnectedness. This is an opportunity to learn, and ask your doctor direct questions that go beyond a robotic, predictable response.
Third: Weigh the pros and cons of all possibilities. If the tooth cannot be saved, you may have to make some hard decisions:
a. Keep the tooth and get a root canal from a knowledgeable dentist (while monitoring your health for any newly emerging “conditions” which may be related to the infected tooth).
b. Extract the tooth. It is highly recommended that this be done by a dentist that is educated in and experienced with the removal of the periodontal ligament (PDL). From Meetinghouse Dental Care:
“All teeth have a periodontal ligament (PDL) composed of collagenous bundles, loose connective tissue, blood, lymph vessels and nerves…It is standard of care for a traditional oral surgeon to assume that the periodontal ligament adheres to the tooth and is therefore always removed during an extraction. Sometimes it is. Sometimes the PDL remains in the socket. If left in an extraction site, the PDL’s continued presence prevents biologic recognition of the absence of the tooth; bone cells will not proliferate and migrate through the membrane intended by nature to define growth limits of the jawbone.”
c. Do you need a bone graft—oral surgery that adds volume and density to your jawbone? Depending on your overall health and strength of your jawbone, it may be possible to have your tooth extracted without the need for a graft. The concern is the possibility of the jaw to deteriorate and possibly “collapse” in on itself without the tooth in place.
d. If you do need a bone graft, know what you're getting. The types of dental bone grafts used vary: Polymer-based (natural & synthetic), Ceramic-based, Growth factors, Allopathic grafts (synthetic), Xenografts (animal based), Synthetic variants (artificial bone), Allografts (derived from other humans) and Autografts (derived from our own cells). Autografts are considered the “gold standard” for grafting.
Effective Home Treatments
Keeping an open mind to the impact home-based oral care can provide to you is a smart idea. You have more influence over the health of your teeth and gums than doctors generally allude to.
Personal practices: Brush with a soft-bristled brush using a gentle, fluoride-free toothpaste (you can make your own if you’re so inclined) 1–2 times daily. Be aware of the quality of the products you are using. Chemicals that could potentially be toxic or harmful to your overall health, such as fluoride, or additives are never worth the risk; tried and true natural options are available.
Clean between your teeth with dental floss daily, or even better, use a water flosser to irrigate food particles and bacteria along your gum line in hard-to-reach areas. It’s ultra-important to push these “swimmers” out of your mouth before they turn into hardened plaque.
Rinse your mouth with warm water, sea salt, and 1–2 drops of essential oil, such as peppermint, cinnamon, or clove and thyme. This will help to cleanse, freshen, and disinfect your mouth to keep decay promoting bacteria at bay.
To elevate your oral care routine, consider oil pulling. This practice of “swishing” oil (unrefined coconut or sesame) for an extended period of time, and then spitting it out (not in the sink, as it can clog), dates back to ancient times in India. From National Institutes of Health (NIH): National Library of Medicine: “Oral pulling for maintaining oral hygiene - A review”:
“It is believed to cure more than thirty systemic diseases when practiced regularly and as directed… Ayurveda hypothesizes that tongue is connected to various organs such as kidneys, heart, lungs, small intestine, spine, etc.
Oil pulling is believed to help in the excretion of toxic heavy metals by saliva. Oil pulling activates salivary enzymes which absorb toxins such as chemical toxins, bacterial toxins, and environmental toxins from the blood, and removed from the body through the tongue. Thus oil pulling detoxifies and purifies the entire human body…
Oil pulling generates antioxidants which damage the cell wall of microorganisms and kill them. These oils will attract the lipid layer of bacterial cell membranes, and cause it to stick or get attracted, and pulled to the oil. During oil pulling, the oil gets emulsified and the surface area of the oil gets increased.
The process of emulsification of oil begins upon 5 min[utes] of oil pulling. This oil will coat the teeth and gingiva and inhibit bacterial co-aggregation and plaque formation. Thus plaque building bacteria responsible for dental caries, gingivitis, periodontitis and bad breath are removed from the oral cavity.”
Alternatively, or in conjunction with oil pulling, you might try a similar technique using wheatgrass powder. Simply mix a teaspoon of the power with warm water and swish rigorously for a few minutes, then discard.
Wheatgrass contains chlorophyll, antioxidants, and vitamins that aid in preventative oral care, by reducing inflammation, slowing down the acceleration of receding gums, and preventing cavities. (Using wheatgrass is also less messy and easier to swish than oil).
Diet and nutrition are key components of good oral health. Excessive sugar and highly-processed modern foods not only degrade your teeth and gums by allowing bacteria to thrive, but do even more to negatively impact your general health.
Additionally, by allowing genetically-modified ingredients (GMOs), toxic chemicals, pesticides, dyes, and preservatives in your diet, you’re opening the door to diseases of the brain and cancer.
“Eating patterns characterised by low intakes of processed carbohydrates and higher intakes of fat- and Vitamin D-rich foods are associated with protection against dental caries.”
“The common dietary risk factor for caries and other chronic diseases is the high and frequent consumption of fermentable carbohydrates, particularly ultra-processed foods which have high amounts of refined starches and free sugars and are associated with eating patterns that exceed recommended sugar consumption levels of less than 10% of total energy intake.”
On the contrary, foods rich in vitamins and nutrients like bone broth, eggs, organ meats, fruits, vegetables, fermented, and sprouted foods all supply the body with what is needed to remineralize teeth and heal the gums.
What an empowering revelation—if you support your body with good nutrition and healthy lifestyle practices, your innate systems work optimally, and you are capable of miraculous healing. As the Greek physician, Hippocrates said:
“Disease is not an entity, but a fluctuating condition of the patient’s body, a battle between the substance of disease and the natural self-healing tendency of the body.”
Published on March 09, 2023
If you'd like to contact A Voice For Choice Advocacy, please email email@example.com.
If you would like to support the research and health education of AVFC editorial, consider making a donation today.