What are the alternatives to root canals?

Episode 7 of Dangers in Dentistry, originally aired on KPRZ in San Diego.

You know the dangers inherent in root canals, but what are the alternatives? And what can you do if you’ve already had a root canal? Dr. Marvin — America’s Holistic Dentist — discusses these topics and more in this episode of Dangers in Dentistry.

Enjoy!
Dr. Marvin
San Diego, Encinitas Holistic Dentist

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Comments

  1. Hi!
    Thanks for the information. I’ve been finding a lot of polarized discourse, ranging from: “Root canals cause 97% of cancer” to: “There are never any problems with root canals and anyone who says so is a quack”. Its nice to hear something that could be considered a more balanced approach.

    I’m 22 years old, and I got in a bike accident about a month ago. I broke my jaw and knocked out my front tooth. In the emergency room, they put the tooth back in, which was also chipped basically in half.
    I went to the clinic dentist, and he obviously recommended a root canal. I would honestly prefer to just get an implant I think, but implants aren’t covered (and are thousands of dollars from what I understand), this root canal probably is covered, and I’m a college student with no income.
    You said that root canals could be good for people who are healthy with good immune systems. Other than my almost healed jaw, I’m in good health. Do you think getting a root canal would have any ill-effects on my health? What would you suggest? Does it matter that the tooth was healthy before it got knocked out?

    Any input greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    Sara

  2. Do you feel that a tooth that has partial nerve damage can be healed through eating raw and fermented foods including dairy and organ meats?

  3. Dr.Marvin,
    I want to thank you for your generous and informative website, and the abundance of free advice you offer in your personalized comments.
    My problem:
    I am 55.
    About 15 years ago I had 2-part interlocking bridgework done involving #4-11 teeth including the bridged gaps. The gaps are #5,8,9.
    The result was excellent. After about 2 years, I got an abscess at the apex of #10, a tooth that anchors the bridgework. The dentist gave a course of antibiotics, then performed a root canal.
    I knew at the time root canals were to be avoided, but could imagine no alternative aside from destroying the entire bridgework.
    Now after about 8 years, my fears seem to be realized. I have what seems to be an ongoing low grade infection with swollen tonsils that comes and goes. I suspect the root canaled tooth is the cause but I am a layman, and could easily be wrong.
    Also, I see from your meridian chart that #10 shares a meridian with the reproductive organs. This point is consistent with my personal negative experience involving decline with those over the last few years.
    In addition, I have started to ‘feel’ the dead tooth, AND #7 which is also on that meridian and still live. Not pain so much as mild discomfort.
    Is there a solution available to me?
    I can send a photo with notes if that helps.
    I cannot find a holistic dentist in my area.

  4. Dr. Marvin,

    How would I go about finding a good holistic dentists in Santa Cruz, CA (shouldn’t be that hard considering its Santa Cruz!).

    I appreciate your input here and throughout the website regarding dentistry. I also appreciate how you don’t demonize the dentists that perform your typical practice.

    It demonstrates a confidence in your work and practices. Great to hear, thank you!

  5. My wife had an accident where her front upper tooth was struck and cracked. According to the dentist we are seeing, the pain she is starting to feel after a week is the nerve dying. We are being told that a root canal is the only alternative. Are there any potential alternatives to a root canal when dealing with a dying nerve in a front tooth that was injured in an accident?

    • It’s hard to say what all the options are. Is the diagnosis correct? What is the extent of the damage? Is there anything else wrong with the tooth? The best thing to do would be to get a second or third opinion. If the nerve dies you need to do treatment, your ultimate options will probably be to extract it (and replace with an implant, bridge, or denture) or to do a root canal.

  6. My wife has a confirmed dead tooth – has been dead for number of years. She has experienced numerous health problems over past few years and I am just learning that these problems could be tied directly to this dead tooth – or bacteria that could be harbored by it. What are your recommendations on a remedy? Obviously do not want a root canal if it can be prevented. Thanks in advance.

    • It’s impossible to diagnose without seeing the tooth in person. My recommendation would be to see a good biological or holistic dentist and discuss it with him or her at your appointment.

  7. Dr Marvin, I have 7 amalgam fillings and 9 root canals (originally 10 – one molar tooth was removed), 3 metal crowns and mercury poisoning symptoms which started in October 2011. My dentist (holistic mercury free) recommended the removal of amalgams, but doesn’t not seem concerned by the amount of root canals (he just told me it was very unusual)..

    He actually started to remove the amalgams from 2 teeth. However, for one of them, he told me he couldn’t remove all amalgam becuse some was used to fill the root canal. He added that this amalgam would be trapped and according to the consensus, it shouldn’t be a problem in the future. Most importantly, the amalgam wouldn’t be subjected to galvanism anymore. I just can’t believe it. I have done alot of reading (Dr Meining’s and Dr Hall-Munro’s books), and I am aware of the limitations of gutta percha as a (toxic) sealant. I stopped all treatment and am now seeking a second opinion.

    Even if all amalgams were succesfully removed, I am quoting Dr Meining: ”It should be obvious that keeping root filled teeth, in someone whose immune system is already compromised by any other diseases or injuries is unwise; therefore, it would seem appropriate for such people not to have root canal therapy or retain root filled teeth”.

    Could I have your opinion?

    • I’m not sure which part you want my opinion on, but I don’t like root canals. I agree with Dr. Meinig. Saying that “according to the consensus” it’s safe to leave mercury in the tooth if it’s crowned is a little like saying that “according to the consensus” lead-based paint is fine on the walls as long as you paint over it first with latex paint.

  8. Dr. Marvin,
    After looking into your videos and learning more about what you do for your patients. I really wish we have holistic dentists like you in Sacramento, CA. I have an 8 year old who hasn’t developed any cavities. When he turned 6, I had sealants put into his back teeth. His dentist unfortunately, dug her tool into one of his sealants and broke it claiming that the tooth was already very soft and that it may eventually develop a cavity and need to be filled. I really want a second opinion but its rare to find trust worthy holistic dentist in this area. What would you suggest?

  9. Christine Says: March 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Hi,

    Interested in your opinion on a root canal. I had a decaying tooth over a year ago, and filled the cavity.

    Now, I have been having some sensitivy in my gum tooth area, on and off, my dentist recommended me a evaulation for a root canal,

    Is there any treatment naturally, or removal of tooth, or natural root canal ingredients?

    Thanks,

    Christine

    • You really need to find out why he recommended the root canal. Sensitivity could be caused by any number of things. If the tooth is no longer vital than then best option is often extraction, but so many other things could be causing it that it’s hard to say without doing an exam. I would recommend you get second or third opinions and go from there.

  10. Hi Dr.
    I have been told that the root has died in my molar under an existing crown. My dentist indicated i probably need a root canal and that he doesnt do it because of the crown and that an endodontist must check and then do it. It seems to me that if there is an infected organic area in my body that if treated and left alone the body should take it away without such a procedure. what do you think? I am in Indianapolis and would appreciate a low cost alternative or a low cost root canal if needed.

    • Some infections your body will take care of on it’s own, but once you cut blood supply to the area it’s very difficult for the body to take care of it. I’d have it looked at by a biological or holistic dentist. I don’t know of anyone in your area, but you can contact the IABDM and see if they have any members near you.

      Good luck,
      Dr. Marvin

  11. hi dr malvin. i m 20 years old. and i had my lower jaw , right side #47 was partially broken while i was chewing on my food. so after consulting my dentist he said he would do the fillings since it wasnt hurting but after my fillings were done, it was doing fine till a month, and now it started to hurt , and because of while i am getting slight pain on my jaw at times, and near my ears. should i go for a root canal? or should i just extract it? but dont you think extracting tooth 47 will be a problem?

    i had a cross bite since grade 9 anyway, which can never be helped without a surgery, but now what should i do with this tooth? cause i dont want the pain to get bigger over the times, furthermore,today was my first day i took a pain killer so that inorder to keep the pain low.

    • I would recommend you see an alternative dentist to get a second opinion. Without an exam, its very difficult to know what’s going on. Find a good alternative dentist and see what he or she recommends.

      Good luck!

  12. Hi Dr. Marvin, i had a question regarding a root canal. I’m 25 years old, 5 month ago my dentist did a root canal on a pre molar (tooth #13). The tooth was hardly hurting but I didn’t know any better and I agreed to the procedure. He cleaned it out a few times, but the temporary fillings he was putting in kept falling out, and the tooth was hurting. After he closed it it started hurting again and it had to be reopened and cleaned, it was still hurting and I got a second opinion and changed dentists. The new dentist removed more dead tissue out, the pain stopped for a week and then came back again. Meanwhile I keep getting constant flues and it seems like my immune system is really down. I am considering extraction (even though the dentist is still saying the tooth can be helped) just because its been hurting for so long and it now changed color. But I’m afraid of committing to having an implant put in. Are there any other options? I would greatly appreciate any advise. Thank you
    Maria

    • Hi Maria,

      I feel sorry that you had to go through all of this. Unfortunately, your best bet now is to extract the tooth. Your root is now hollowed out and there’s “activity” at the end of the root that won’t go away without taking the tooth out and the infected bone surrounding the apex of the tooth.

      Be sure the dentist removes the bone at the end of the tooth with a drill or else you may have symptoms from Chronic Ischemic Bone Disease.

      If you need to do an implant, make sure they test you first. I had a patient come in yesterday with a failing titanium implant and there was absolutely no bone surrounding the implant.

      keep smiling and stay positive,
      Dr. Marvin

  13. V planchon Says: July 26, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    My husband has peridontitis. He has a very fastidious routine, brushing two to three times daily with a sonicare, and flossing daily. He had all the mercury fillings replaced a few years ago at a natural dentistry clinic, but goes three times per year to a peridontist to get cleanings, and to a hygienist twice a year at the dentist’s office for cleanings as well. Today the peridontist recommended that he get root scaling done on four of his back teeth, which is a very expensive and painful procedure. Is it possible to treat the bacteria and plaque below the gum line with natural or alternative treatments? I have read that flaxseed can be very beneficial. What could be helpful in this type of case?

  14. Aloha Dr.Marvin, I can’t find any laser dentists in my area. I think that would be a
    good way to address my need for a root canal.
    Which came first – the infected root or an inflamed system? Can the infection in the root be healed? I have been fasting, taking zeolites, trying an alkaline diet (when I stick to it I have NO
    inflammation!-but when I (get) (eat) acid forming food I get a pocket of pus near my gum line(which I pop easily – and wake up with no swelling?) Is this “infection” spreading into my body or is my toxic body gathering in this tooth? or both?
    Well, I am cleansing from years of pharmaceutical drugs (anti-depressents, pain and anxiety
    meds) – finally quit my stress inducing job- and am retiring (which may be stressful if the government fails to protect us).
    So, if I have no pain, and continue to search for the most healing life style and eating plan
    (do more detox and colonic work), do you think I can avoid this dreaded root canal?
    Also, I have 6 front crowns poorly executed by a quack doctor(who have his office girls make the uneven cerics) with open margins – will this cause problems down the line?
    Mahalo and Aloha From Hawaii!

  15. GLA ORT Says: July 15, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Dr. Marvin,

    Are there long term issues to extracting teeth and not replacing the area with an implant or bridge?

    GLA

    • Great question! The answer isn’t so simple. Yes, there can be problems. No, there are not always problems. There are so many variables that it is difficult to nail down an absolute answer. Essentially, there are a lot of things that COULD go wrong when you lose a tooth (teeth can shift, bite can be thrown off, teeth can wear unevenly…). BUT, you could also be perfectly fine without that tooth.

      Your history, jaw structure, bite, tooth location… It all plays a part. A good dentist will take all that into consideration when making a recommendation for tooth replacement.

      Hope that helps. Sorry it’s not a black and white answer.
      Dr. Marvin

  16. AngieZee Says: July 13, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Hi Dr. Marvin. I’ve had a little bit of pain on my lower left molar #18 for almost a year but now its hurting a little bit more. My dentist told me that I needed a root canal on the tooth next to that, which doesn’t even hurt., and possible #18 too. I normally have painful cavities, in fact, I don’t normally see a dentist until the pain gets worst. So, my question is, do I really need a root canal on a tooth that does not hurt, and should I get the second opinion from a general dentist or endodontist? In feels like your everyday cavity to me.
    Thank you,
    Angie

    • I would highly recommend a second opinion. Any time you are unsure of a diagnosis, seek a second opinion. Any time you’re talking about surgery that could affect your health, seek a second opinion.

      If I were you, I would seek out a biological or holistic dentist for the second opinion, not an endodontist. I’m not sure where you are located, but you are welcome to visit us or you can check out the IAOMT or IABDM websites for a doctor reference, too.

      Good luck!
      Dr. Marvin

  17. Hello Dr. Marvin I read the post and I wanted to respond to your answer to jsavage answer. However I do not think Dentists should be shot buy when you say people are not taking care of there teeth I think this is wrong to say.

    With fluoride in the water which kills healthy cells and the lack of real raw live organic food not GMO food and chemical pesticide food where people are not getting and absorbing there nutrients this leads them deficit and can effect tooth health. Especially if the certain population has a much harder time accessing healthy organic food. Again I don’t endorse shooting doctors but for the example of amalgam mercury in cavities if it has been scientifically linked to lead to disease and death and the dentists is aware of this what would you call this?

  18. I am 92 years old and broke a tooth while eating popcorn. Many of my back teeth are missing and I wanted to have the rest of that lower tooth removed so I went to the dentist even though it did not hurt. My dentist filled the tooth instead and three days later, it began to hurt. I returned to him and he sent me to the oral surgeon for removal because I am on the bone density medication. The oral surgeon would not remove it because he thought it might have trouble healing. I am very healthy but I do dislike any dental work and the oral surgeon wants to do a root canal. Please advise me. I do not want to do the root canal. I think I am too old. What other options do I have?

    • I recommend you get a second opinion on having an extraction. Did he say why he thought you wouldn’t heal? Always seek second opinions… it’s well within your right to question your health professional. We are all humans and mistakes can be made. Make sure you are comfortable with a diagnosis before moving forward.

  19. I’m very concerned. My dentist wants to perform 4 root canals on my molars. I have had amalgam fillings on all my back molars since I was around 12. The dentist says that bacteria has been leaching into my teeth for years. I have broken 2 of the teeth recently. I’m not feeling any pain. I don’t even mind the broken teeth. It has affected me at all. What if I just continue to take care of my teeth, but leave them be?

    • If you have infections then it’s a good idea to have those taken care of. I would recommend you seek a second opinion on those teeth to see what your options are. If you’re concerned about root canals, you should try to see a natural or holistic dentist for a different opinion. In any case, second opinions are always a good idea in dentistry, no matter who you are seeing.

  20. Well, after the dentists kill one’s tooth nerve’s with mercury silver fillings, and if they haven’t already given you cancer of some type, they want to do root canals, which I have learned can and do make people sick, and finally cause one to have said tooth removed, which causes a whole ne set of problems if not replaced. One has to take out a second mortgage to afford all this. Quite simply it seems to me, there ought to be a simple solution for people. The solution is probably another one of those innovations and inventions that are being suppressed like the electric and or air car, and 75% more efficient lighting. If you can drill holes you ought to be able to fill them. The cure for tooth cavities I’ve read ‘is’ being suppressed according to British sources. If you ask me, anyone who makes a living out of causing someone pain and suffering needlessly, they ought to be taken out and shot. Js.

    • Wow… so you think all dentists should be taken out and shot? That’s mighty cynical of you. I suppose when people don’t take care of their teeth at home, end up with gross decay, are in pain, they can always just yank it out themselves and hope it doesn’t get infected and hope it magically gets replaced?

      Not all dentists are evil. In fact, most of the time patients would never have to go to the dentist if they took care of their teeth at home. I, for one, would prefer to never see a patient with a cavity. It won’t put me out of business, because there are always freak accidents that occur and teeth that need to be repaired. And in the perfect world with no dental problems… I’d find another industry to work in. Of course, that won’t happen, but if it did, I’d be proud of my patients for taking care of matters on their own and PREVENTING trips to the dentist. In fact, most of our patients, after seeing us initially, don’t need to come back… because they take care of themselves at home and don’t want to have more dental work done.

      I agree that there’s a lot of information suppressed on just about everything. However, the “cure” for cavities is to take care of your teeth at home. It’s really that simple.

  21. Dr. Marvin why do you not openly answer Rita question so all can read? gives me the idea u are trying to sell some thing rather then help. i have the same question what alternative to root canal,other than an extraction?

  22. The information on Root Canal was very interesting, however, it does not answer my question. I have also asked the question directly to Dr. Marvin and he refers me to the new website with videos and eBook. None of that answers my question, which is this: My dentist is recommending a root canal in tooth #12. I previously had an amalgam filing that fell out and he drilled out more tooth and put a deep filing of plastic or the common used “white filing”. There is now sensitivity of the tooth and my dentist is wanting to do a root canal. I am holding off and do not want to go too long for unwanted symptoms to start happening. What is my alternative to root canal, at this point, other than an extraction?

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