Why Are Root Canals Bad?

Why Are Root Canals Bad?

At The Center for Natural Dentistry, we do not recommend root canals or root canal therapy. Why? Because more often than not, root canals result in an infection. While that infection may never cause a noticeable health problem, a substantial number of people will suffer adverse affects. The risks of root canal therapy do not outweigh the “reward” of keeping a dead tooth in your mouth.

So why do so many root canals result in infection? Simply put, the roots aren’t fully sterilized and not 100% filled. This results in pockets of potentially harmful bacteria that are “sealed” into the tooth, away from blood-flow that fights infections. In short, it becomes a haven for bad germs.

Rather than write another article laden with facts on root canals (we’ve already written plenty of them, just check out under The Root Canal Controversy section of our website (we talk about Alternatives to Root Canals, Infections from Root Canals, Sargenti Paste, Ozone Therapy for Root Canals, and much more.), I want to give you some real-life examples of what we’re talking about. Below I’ve posted just a few of the pictures we’ve taken of extracted teeth. Most of these were taken in just the past few days… and we have plenty more to choose from. In some cases, the patient had some sort of pain or discomfort. In others, no symptoms were noticed by the patient. In our practice, about 9 our of 10 extractions performed on root canal treated teeth have obvious infections like the ones you see below.

Dr. Marvin.



  1. Have you ever heard of intense itching caused by an infection from root canals or extracted teeth? For the past 2 years my right ear feels “full” and itches terribly at night, as does the right side of my throat–enough to wake me up out of my sleep and at the very least to cause me to toss and turn and get poor sleep. I have a root canal on the bottom right side (the gum is sometimes sore and is always larger there–do these things signal infection?) and my upper right rear molar was extracted 3 years ago. Because itching isn’t usually connected with infection, no one has had an answer for me regarding this unusual persistent daily symptom. Occasionally the whole right side of my head feels dull and heavy, but goes away when I take natural antibiotics. I heard that pseudomonas aeruginosa, which I understand can reside in root canaled teeth, can create itching. Have you heard about or experienced this symptom with any of your patients in regard to a possible infection of gums, teeth, or bone–even though I don’t experience pain? No dentist or doctor has been able to resolve this for me–nothing can be seen in my ear or throat, though a throat culture turned up klebsiella oxytoca. If you have never heard of or experienced this as a dentist, perhaps it is not dental related. I have been thinking of replacing my root canals with implants to see if it solves the problem, and this would certainly be a good idea anyway, but as my primary immediate goal is to resolve the itching, it would help to know if there is some evidence that the itching and the teeth are related so I can know where to put my time and resources into first. Thanks in advance for your response.

    • It’s not something I’ve seen first-hand, but that doesn’t mean that the correlation doesn’t exist. Everybody is different and problems can minifest in different ways. You may want to visit an holistic MD in your area to see if they can help determine the source of the problem.

    • Oh my goodness! I get crazy itching in my ear mostly during the night as well!!! I recently found out my root canal was severely infected and had to get it re treated today.

  2. silvia abbate Says: November 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Hello dr. Martin,
    I had a root canal in August 2011, A month later was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I don’t think there’s a relation there as it was a slow growth tumor.
    The root canal has been infected for months but without any symptoms, I just want to solve this problem as I’ve read the relation between infected root canals and other ailments.
    What is the best way? tooth extraction and then what? My usual dentist has left, how do I make sure that my new dentist will be up to the task?
    Also, I’m planning to go to India for a couple of months in December, will the extraction give me long standing problems (had to give up to another trip last year because of the cancer and lost the money I had spent on tickets…)

    • It’s hard to say without seeing what’s going on. I suggest you see a good holistic or biological dentist in your area and get an exam done to find out what your best options are.

  3. paulo nogueira Says: November 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Your believes not only are out of sense but also have no evidence base or scientific support.
    Root canals, when proper treated can have a high rate of success, and not only save the tooth but also keep it healthy, without infection, however the studies showed that about 70 % of root canals in US are treated by general dentist, and unfortunately these dentists have no adequate training and tools to do the job right, any dentist can try to do root canals although only the endodontist are the one specially trained to do it.
    I am an endodontist and 50 % of my treatment pool is to RETREAT bad root canals, the retreatment can really defeat the infection since it can remove the etiology, microorganism, and seal the canal properly in order to avoid recontamination and promote the healing process that follow the elimination of the infection cause.
    I work with dental operatory microscope from the access to the temporary seal; have at least an orifice barrier over to the canal entrance.
    Have you seen a pulp chamber through a microscope?
    I believe not, you are a falsifier and I am sorry about all the people you are trapping with your false and weak opinion

  4. Bruno Naves Says: November 4, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Dr. Marvin
    You do not know anything about endodontics. You should study more…..

    • Wow, thanks for clearing that up. You know what the difference is between you and me Bruno? I actually did endo for about five years. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I had an open-mind and realized that maybe it wasn’t as good as I was taught in dental school. But it’s okay — you don’t have to be open-minded… but you shouldn’t hate people who have different opinions than you. That’s called bigotry.

  5. I just had my root canalad second molar removed last week, it had been done about ten years ago and never felt ‘right’. The crown bit fell off it so I finally had my way with the dentist to rip it out. Not so easy, had to be surgically removed, not so much fun, and some of the infection was in the bone so bit of grinding there too.
    Now, I am 51 years old, and for about the last decade I have suffered from being sickish, tired, headaches etc, just worn down. The last couple days I feel like I did when i was 30, wake up fresh, and zooming around with my 6yo, like a new mommy…. Question is: can a bad root canal create general malaise for a long period of time? Or is it just coincidence I feel like a different person and wake up and jump out of bed rather than dragging myself out? Considering I have stitches in my mouth and a big hole I find it quite surprising I am feeling 500% better than I have in ten years.

  6. Peter James Mahood Says: October 26, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I have a broken chipped away big tooth just behind the bottom small teeh my left, the nerve gave me massive pain for a week the stop so I think it is dead should I get it extracted or what please help

  7. So……I had a root canal several years ago and the crown is bad. My dentist has suggested we get a new crown and it seems like the right thing to do. All the teeth closest to the crown are having trouble. Any advice? What should they be looking for with regard to infection under the crown? This is super stressful!!

  8. Unfortunately, there are crappy dentists out there, just like any other doctors. About 25 years ago (I was living in 2 different cities, just out of school), I had gotten the recommendation of a dentist as I was moving to that city. I just had him do cleanings for me as my real dentist was back in Philly. One day I had pain in a tooth, went to the new dentist (in DC) and he said it was a really deep cavity…and that it will likely be a little uncomfortable for a few days. Well, days and weeks went by and I went back to my real guy..and he said to me…”don’t ever go back to that dentist, and if you know of anybody going to him/her tell them not to go back”….he left decay in my tooth and filled over it!! Can you say “OWWWWW?!

  9. Dear Dr. Marvin,
    I just had a root canal on my back tooth and now am thinking that it was a mistake because of all of the comments like cancer side effects. Is there really a connection to root canals and cancer and can the root canal be reversed by you. Thank you.

  10. Are pulpotomies dangerous? My five-year-old had one.

    • Pulpectomies are the start of a root canal. Once a pulp is done, it’s needs to be finished (full root canal). There is very little different in the long run because they typically go hand-in-hand.

      • Christian Giampietro Brandão Says: November 3, 2012 at 8:02 am

        Hi! I’m quite surprised in reading such opinion about root canal treatments, considering the high rate of success shown by the scientific literature. Even the PULPOTOMIES, cited in this question, present high success rate and are really indicated for deciduous and permanent teeth. The answer is considering PULPECTOMIES, that is really the beggining of a radical treatment.
        Best regards,
        Dr. Christian.

        • Thanks for your comments Dr. Christian. Studies define “success” as saving the tooth without symptoms — like pain.

          Studies don’t show how the health is affected positively or negatively. I believe that success should be defined in terms of health, not just symptoms.

          Common sense comes into play also: the infection outside the tooth is not fully resolved by doing root canals or pulpectomies, which treat the inside of the tooth.

          An infection in the bone surrounding the tooth can cause numerous problems that may not result in any immediate reactions. Chronic illnesses, which many people have, have unknown causes. Untreated infections could be one of them.

  11. Dear Dr. Marvin,

    I had a root canal done last week tooth 3. I have been in extreme pain since then, including gums swelling on the right side and consistent pain that causes a constant headache. I have even developed a sore throat on my right side only. The dentist that did my root canal referred me to a specialist, whom I saw today. The specialist said my root canal needs to be re-done, but my insurance won’t cover a second one this soon and I can’t afford to pay cash. I’m very scared that it might be a serious infection. I’m going to try to contact the dentist to see if they would cancel the payment. However, do you think I should get another root canal by the specialist or should I just have the tooth completely removed? Please help!

  12. Hello Dr. Marvin. I had a root canal a while back and for some reason it was never crowned until recently. I was really young when it was done and I am not sure wether it was my parents fault or the doctors. When I would lean my cheek on my hand or touch it, it would feel strange and slightly painful at the area right above that tooth. I went to a dentist and he said there was an abcess but I shouldn’t worry about it. The dentist told me that the infection was contained in a sac and wouldnt spread. But I am still worried, being that the infected tooth is in the top of my mouth in close proximity to my nasal cavities, eyes and brain. I wouldnt want a serious infection to spread to any of those areas. He mentioned that I could have it surically removed. Would you reccommend that? Would there be any pain or any warning if the infection was spreading? He also told me that any trauma like a punch in the face could cause it to tear and the bacteria to spread. Can you enlighten me? Thanks in advance.

    • The infection is “contained in a sac and won’t spread?” Wow… that is false. Yes, infections can be “in a sac”… and that “sac” can grow and grow and grow. If you had an infection in your finger would you leave it there? This is flawed logic that I don’t understand from some dentists. You have to work very hard to convince yourself that such a possibility is actually true when all your medical training says “infections are bad, get rid of them.” I would highly recommend you find a new dentist and get another opinion.

  13. Dr. Marvin –

    I’ve taken much interest in your website and I have a question for you please. I had a root canal done on #13 (3 mos. ago)and have since developed symptoms of a sinus infection. (I’ve never had a sinus infection prior) I’m suspicious of the tooth now. I’ve taken two weeks worth of antibiotics with no relief. I have very little nasal congestion but my sinuses, eye and ears have been quite inflamed/infected..stiff neck, headaches..etc. I went to the dentist who did the root canal to have him x-ray the area, he said he found no sign of infection. Could my symptoms be the result of the root canal procedure? Is my body rejecting the “Dead” tooth? I’d appreciate any insight.. I’m at a loss and this has been affecting the quality of my life. Thank you much- Alex

  14. PORSCHE Says: July 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm


    • I’m not sure how it died, but I would be more concerned with the path moving forward than what happened in the past. Try to find a good biological dentist in your area and get it looked at to determine the best way to take care of it moving forward.

  15. Cameron Samimi Says: July 12, 2012 at 1:00 am

    I had two root canals done. I didn’t think anything was wrong until one day I had severe pain. These root canals were done over 10 years ago. The dentist showed me the X-Ray, complimented the job the previous dentist did on my root canal, and then proceeded to tell me they were infected and the infection is eating away at my jawbone.

    What can I do to fix this problem? He suggested implants. I have heard many implants don’t take and I know they are very expensive. What alternatives do I have? I have incredibly perfect teeth and I don’t want to ruin them but I don’t want to be sick from my teeth being infected. I found this out over a year ago and haven’t done anything about it yet and haven’t had any further pain.

    Please help.

    • Hi Cameron, trust me you have an infection you just can’t feel it. I just had three teeth removed due to an infected root of a tooth that had a root canal done in 1989. My dentist kept telling me I was fine and just needed a deep scaling. In the meantime I was diagnosed with an infection my spine. It’s been the most painful condition I have ever experienced – teeth pulled and after one year of suffering with shoulder/arm spasm/ impingement and pain I am finally getting better thanks to a good periodontist and antibiotics….run to a good periodontist and get those teeth removed. I’m having implants, slow process, but better than a spine infection with permanent damage!

  16. hi doctor, i was so impressed on how u try to give advices concerning rct.

    i have 2 crowns(front tooth and incisor),one year ago i consulted my dentist. she used burs to make a hole under the crown and i she used files to allow drainage on my teeth..

    she said she will allow pus to drain first before she will start RCT. unfortunately i was not able to come back because i went abroad.

    Until now my crowns and teeth under it were left open.
    one time i was brushing my teeth and suddenly one crown fell off.
    my friend gave me glass ionomer and applied on my tooth. i was quite relieved that it was attached back to my tooth. but after two days i felt pain and there’s a bump on top of the crown. im bothered because the hole (in my tooth) was sealed with glass ionomer, perhaps the pus wont able to come out.
    im worried about infection but i dont have money to consult a dentist because it is very expensive. i plan to consult after 2 months when i have enough money.
    doctor should this needs prompt treatment? am i risk to serious infection?i hope u can give me advice. thank you.

  17. I do appreciate your viewpoint, Dr. Marvin. But could the real truth about root canals be inbetween the extremes? Clearly many people have no ill effects from root canals. Surely you must admit that there is NO data to support that even a majority of patients suffer any serious consequence to root canal tx. Possibly some people’s health problems do indeed stem from root canals— as is your belief. But what troubles me is, the alternatives to root canals are no panacea. If you extract a problem tooth–a patient could suffer severe infection, trauma or death from the extraction–this has happened. Same with implants— and even bridges can lead to major health problems depending on the situation. Root canals might be safer for some individuals than the alternatives. That is my problem with all doctors who are so against root canals—there are no perfect alternatives— you are down- playing the risks of the alternatives and over playing the risks of the root canal. The older (and hopefully wiser) I get, the more I see the “shades of grey in any medical procedure.

    • I never said the alternatives were a “panacea”. Quite the opposite: the only perfect dentistry is no dentistry. Prevent problems. Get second opinions (I see a TON of patients who were recommended a root canal. We do a cone beam scan and find that they were misdiagnosed). Ask questions and find out what is right for you.

      There is no one right answer for all people. There are no absolutes. Everyone wants to be told that if they do THIS, then they will get THAT. The world of medicine (and dentistry) does not work that way. There are “shades of grey” — as you say — in everything. The thing about root canals is this: they have been proven to be IMPOSSIBLE to completely sterilize. They almost ALL eventually end up with an infection. Yes, almost all. Infections are bad. The only place people would ever consider ignoring an infection is in their mouth (out of sight out of mind). Do all root canals lead to cancer? No. Does that possibility exist? Yes. Will your root canal get infected? Probably. Are infections bad? Yes. Do I want to avoid things that will PROBABLY cause something BAD? Personally, my answer is yes. But of course, I present the information so you can make an informed decision for yourself.

      This is a great conversation — I encourage you to register for http://www.DrMarvin.com and continue the conversation there on our forums (registration is free).

  18. I had a root canal done over ten years ago, had no infection or pain till last year when the pain got so bad i was suicidal. I took codiene, and anything i could get my hands on for pain, but nothing worked. I didnt sleep at all, and missed work. When i finally got in to see the dentist and he gave me 5 deadening shots, only then did the pain stop. He cut open the puss pocket just above my fake tooth, and black liquid came pouring out. Only when the infection was drained, and pocket was cleaned out, did pain stop so i could sleep. But a week later i was back in getting cut open again for more infection to drain out. After those two times of getting cut on, and infection drained out, i had no more pain or problem till today. I noticed a puss pocket developing again in same spot just above fake tooth. Im scared of the pain starting again, i fear it. What can be done to finally get rid of infection once and for all. I cannot go through this again. Please help.

  19. oky, thanks doc. 😉

  20. hi doc, my first molar tooth at my right bottom needs a root canal but i dont want having a root canal since i’ve heard that it causes a lot of problems. could braces help to cover the gap if i will ask my dentist to remove it? thx.

    • I’m not an orthodontist, but I would suggest that you probably do NOT want to move all your teeth over to fill in the gap. Your teeth are positioned in a certain way for a reason. Moving them all one spot over will most likely cause you more long term problems than you want to deal with. But, like I said, I’m not an orthodontist so you would be best served finding a good ortho to help you out with that question.

      Sorry I can’t help more.
      Dr. M

  21. This video explain why root canals are so toxic


  22. I am 33 weeks pregnant, and have had to undergo 4 root canals during my pregnancy, This brings me to a total of 6. I am now very scared of the consequences, While nothing is hurting in my mouth, and both my endodontist and dentist say that I am fine, after doing my own research, I am unsure of what to do. Do I have 6 teeth pulled, Obviously, I have to wait to the end of my pregnancy, but I am afraid of the negative effects they are having on my health at the moment, As a young mother of two children, I am experiencing significant anxiety about my health.

    • Emily, I think you need to see a good alternative dentist to help you go over your options and work with your concerns. You may also want to give me a call during my live radio show on Saturday morning on KPRZ (you can listen online if you aren’t in our area) so I can talk you through some of it easier than in the comment section of the website.

  23. PiratesGirl Says: April 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I had not been to the dentist in several years and finally went in for a cleaning and exam. About a week later I started to experience pain in #31. This tooth had a root canal and crown done 15 years ago. I never had any problems with it. I am unable to bite on that side and have been taking 2-3 Advil every 6 hours. I am convinced that something done during the cleaning caused this pain but both the dentist and endodontist THINK it’s an infection in the root canal but can’t confirm because the x-ray doesn’t show one. They want to redo the root canal and I just don’t know that this is what should be done. How can I know for sure if it is an infection or what is going on? I can’t stand to be in this kind of pain all the time. I did start antibiotics but it’s too soon to know if they are making a difference. Thanks!

    • Go to a dentist with a better x-ray machine. We use a Cone Beam scanner that shows infections much better than a traditional x-ray machine. Call around and see where you can go OR find a dentist who will listen to your concerns and act accordingly.

      Hope that helps,
      Dr. Marvin

  24. Hello.

    My #3 upper right molar has been giving me problems lately. I had a filling placed a few years ago. I can feel the existence of my tooth, and after eating or doing anything with it, it turns into pain. I feel the pain in the surrounding area of my gums, centrating on the tooth itself.

    I even felt the pain in my lower cheekbone.

    The dentist took x-rays, and told me my teeth looked normal according to the x-ray.

    He then used this metal thing to poke my teeth to check for sensitivity. When he poked the tooth that I had been feeling, it was very sensitive and I cried out and jumped a little.

    He suggested a root canal. Simply because I knew exactly which tooth it was, and there were no visible problems with the tooth.

    I don’t want to lose my tooth. I’m 21 years old.

    But my Dad showed me your site, and now I’m absolutely terrified of what to do.

    What would be your advice?

    • My advice would be to get another opinion. It’s your right to get multiple opinions. We don’t do root canals in our office so of course I wouldn’t recommend that option, but I understand why the dentist suggested it: it’s the simple answer and it will get you out of pain.

      Root canals are often recommended when there is pain but no other visible sign of damage to the tooth. Why? Because dentists often don’t have time to spend days trying to figure out what’s wrong and they KNOW that a root canal will get you out of pain (after all, that’s why you went in, right?).

      If you like that approach, then go for it. I personally don’t like that approach. I don’t want a procedure done unless you can give me a definitive reason as to why and tell me that it will help solve the root cause of the problem, not just mask the symptoms.

  25. I just had re-root canal about 8 months and on top of the gum I have a large bump no pus..The endontist keeps saying it has nothing to do with
    his work. I had a ct scan recently to see what it is. They tell me I have a bone infection with a bone fracture that has deteroiated the bone. Nobody is telling me how to fix this. Where should I go? I don’t want this bone infection traveling thru my body. I also had surgery about a year ago, and the anestheisologist broke my front teeth. Could this be related to that and not the re-root canal? Reason for re-root canal was the dentist saw an infection and referred me to endontist, who did the retreatment.

    • The infection will most likely keep coming back and you will probably keep being told to do another root canal. See a pattern? I’d recommend you see a biological dentist in your area and get another opinion (or two) and see what your other options are.

  26. Hello Dr. Marvin, thank you for such a great website. I went to dentist No.1 on 03/29/2012. They took an x-rays and told me that I don’t need any fillings but that I need the following:

    1. A night guard because of teeth grinding.
    2. A crown on teeth 9 & 10 (because of a previous root canal done there and fillings)
    3. A crown on tooth 18 because of fracture.
    4. A deep cleaning.

    I wanted to get a second opinion and went to dentist No.2 on 04/06/2012. They took x-rays and they told me I needed the following:
    1. A composite filling on teeth 14, 15, 18, 19 (Tooth 18 already had a filling, they saw some cavity under the filling and wanted to redo the filling. This is the tooth that the previous dentist said was fracture)
    2. A crown on teeth 9 & 10 (because of a previous root canal done there and fillings)

    The dentist told me that she couldn’t find any fracture on tooth 18 like dentist No.1 told me.

    I decided to do the fillings with the second dentist. All the fillings went fine except that the cavity for tooth 18 was deeper than expected and she hit a nerve while working on it. She told me that I needed a root canal done and finished it with a temporary filling. She referred me to an endodontics. After I left the dentist there was no pain, just overall sensitivity later that night but very little.

    I had my root canal done 4 days later on 04/10/2012. Then later the tooth next to it (tooth 19) became sensitive to touch in the middle on the tooth. I noticed that when I was eating. When the top tooth would slightly touch tooth 19 while I am gently chewing, tooth 19 will hurt a bit (I’ve been eating solely on the right side of the mouth since 4 four fillings on the left side). Normally it wouldn’t hurt with hot/cold or if I tap the tooth itself, even if I tap hard. It ONLY is very sensitive when I’m eating when the top tooth touches the middle of the bottom tooth. It’s 5 days after the root canal has been done on tooth 18 on 04/10/2012, it seems like the sensitivity on tooth 19 only started when the root canal was done.

    I’m going for my first crown tomorrow (Monday). Since the tooth became sensitive I started reading and researching a lot about root canals and learned quite a lot like the nerves are very close together and can make other areas of the mouth sensitive (and how root canal should be avoided)

    I’m a bit curious why the diagnostic for dentists No.1 and No.2 so different, I’m kind wondering if I needed all these fillings since dentist No.1 said that I didn’t any and why No.1 said I had a fracture when No.2 didn’t find that.

    But my question is what is the most probable reason for tooth 19’s sensitivity and most importantly WOULD I NEED A ROOT CANAL for that one too? What is the most likely scenario? Would it be better to extract tooth 18 instead of doing the crown tomorrow? Thank you very much for your time and sharing your expertise.

    I’m moving to Los Angeles in a couple of weeks and was thinking that I could come and visit you but I need to know what I need to do for now.

    • No one NEEDS a root canal in my opinion. That being said, dentists often have different diagnoses based on the same data. It can be frustrating, I know. That’s why when you aren’t sure it’s always best to get yet another opinion.

      I have no idea why 19 is sensitive without doing an exam and looking at a 3D Cone Beam scan. Could be your bite is out of balance, could be an infection, could be decay… so many different things. Best thing to do is come see us for an exam.

      I wish I could provide more / better advice, but without an exam it’s all just a guess, and you don’t want to make decisions on your health based on a guess.

  27. Dr. Marvin,

    I have, the two no. 5 bottom teeth, with root canal therapy and
    crowns, also, a no. 6 top, root therapy and crown.
    The no. 5 bottom L is giving pain, for the last few day’s and i will,
    be seeing my dentist, next week.

    the no. 5 bottom tooth, giving pain, after exactly 1 year ago,
    i received, root therapy and a crown, for this tooth.

    Tapping on the tooth, results in mild pain, in that, immediate area,
    also, not able to bite and chew on that tooth, without, some discomfort.

    Should i consider, complete removal of the tooth, no. 5
    and or perhaps, antibiotics to limit any infections into surrounding area.
    or, further treatment of this tooth.

    After reading, your discussion forum, i understand, more, of the
    complication potentially involved, with dental root therapy.

    The other, no. 5 tooth with therapy and crown seems o.k. after 12 years.

    My limitations are no income and irregular access to capital,being banked.

    Thank You All

    • Hard to say given that every body is different. I’d recommend you get scheduled to see a good biological dentist in your area and get some alternatives that will work best for you.

  28. Dr Marvin

    I had one root canal just one year ago, one of the molars top right. This tooth gave me such pain, my dentist called upon the services of an endodontist and from an x-ray alone he determined that I was a good candidate for a tooth canal to save the tooth! The endodontist did his part and my dentist filled the tooth with amalgam filling having asked him to use the white filling he stated it was safe, stronger and long lasting. Within 2 months after the root canal completion the tooth broke a piece came away so he patched it up using a white filling on the side of the tooth. From the beginning I could not put pressure on that tooth nor able to chew as it hurt. It continued to hurt so I returned back to my dentist and stated that felt something was not right, I asked him to take an x-ray and he said no x-ray was required and what I needed was a periodental treatment to deep scale my teeth as with age they had recedeed, and that this periodental treatment will save my teeth! what about the tooth canal! well that was more or less dismissed and when I stated that the tooth was weak and why did he not secure with a crown initially my dentist stated I did not require a crown [this is why it broke on the side in the first place surely!] Fast forward one year later the root canal tooth when I tap on it sounds hollow! unlike the other teeth and to make matters worse just out of the blue yesterday and today I am in pain awful toothache caused by the root canal tooth been taking pain killers. I dont want to go back to this dentist as I really do feel it is all about money very expensive and feel my care is not a priority as far as this dentist is concerned. What is your opinion please! thank you

    • I would recommend you find a different dentist and get this taken care of properly. Based on what you have said there is a good chance the tooth just needs to be extracted at this point. Try to find a good biological or holistic dentist in your area and schedule an appointment and get it taken care of once and for all.

      I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve gone through. I wish I could say it was the first time I’ve heard it, but the sad thing is that it is all-too-common. I wish you the best of luck! You are always welcome to schedule an appointment at our office if you would like.
      Dr. Marvin

  29. Thank you so much for your kind and wise answer! I understand what you are saying and I agree with you. I hope i will be comfortable with all these bridges…

  30. Do you use Novacaine at your office? While I love your thoughts & views, I am a bit concerned about how ‘holistic’ your office is & would not want work done without the area getting numbed. Thank you!

    • Haha, YES, of course we use anesthetic. We actually test for biocompatibility with different types of anesthetics so we are sure to use the one that best works for you.

  31. Thank you Dr. Marvin for taking the time to answer my questions.

    My Dentist believes that ALL root canals are infected according to his testing all of the root canals he tested for 3 years came back infected that is why he doesn’t need me to to get the cone beam scan unless I want to he said I can, but he doesn’t need it to know which tooth in infected b/c he saw that they all are. I went to another holistic dentist and he suggested the cone beam scan to see which are infected. I like and trust my current dentist, I believe my root canals are infected b/c every night when I lay to go to sleep I feel pain under the root canals, it’s always a different root canal… I am very sensitive and can usually more aware of sensing things most people don’t. My mom has root canals and many metal implants and she doesn’t feel a thing… I think I will feel better if I get all my root canal out of my mouth. I recently removed 10 silver fillings so I thing my root canals are next! 🙂 My only concern is how stable a bridge will be b/c I need so many of them….

    • I would tend to agree with your doctor. I can’t say “all” because I have seen one or two that weren’t infected. Unfortunately, just because they aren’t infected now doesn’t mean they won’t become infected.

      If the bridge is well-made and you have the surrounding teeth to make it happen, you should be fine. Unfortunately, in a case like yours, there is typically no perfect answer. You always aim for the safest bet, and it sounds like that’s what your doctor is doing.

      Good luck!
      Dr. Marvin

  32. oh one more thing, He said that he doesn’t need me to get the Cone Beam scan unless I get an implant, but since I am not, I wonder if I should still get the Cone Beam to see which root canal are infected. Do you think I should get this scan anyway just to see which root canal is infected? the thing is, he doesn’t want to bridge any of my root canal just incase, so his idea is to get rid of all of them. What do you think of that?

    • Again, it all depends on the situation and the doctor. We don’t do Cone Beam scans every time, but they do provide a good method of seeing infections. Since you have some reservations about the treatment plan, I would recommend you speak with the doctor further about it — most doctors are more than willing to listen and help you understand why he or she made the diagnosis and treatment recommendation that was made.

  33. Hi Dr. Marvin,

    Thank you so much for this informative website.
    I recently started going to holistic dentist here in Massachusetts to remove all my mercury fillings (had about 8 or 9 of them) and to consult about my 11 root canals! yes I have 11 root canals! (I am 43 years old)
    They removed most of my mercury and have two more to go which I am already scheduled for.

    He is suggesting that I extract all 11 of them and bridge them all. He also doesn’t think I should do implant b/c he believe they are very invasive even though he does them (the Zirconium one). He said to me that for 3 years they tested their patients root canal through saliva and found out that all of the root canal has some level of infection some were of course higher then others but all were infected so they stopped testing for that.

    I just want a second opinion from another holistic dentist. Do you think it makes sense to extract all 11 root canal and bridge them all? What happens if the teeth that are holding the bridge gets decay etc?

    Many thanks in advance.

    • HI Dorine, you have some great questions here. I’m not an advocate of root canals, but without seeing you for an exam, there’s no way to tell if they need to be extracted. It sounds like you have found a pretty good dentist. Of course, I always recommend people get a second opinion if they have doubts, so your best bet would be to get another opinion from a holistic dentist and see what he or she says.

      Good luck!

  34. having had three root canals I can honestly vouch that they have all been disasters and an going through my second implant as a result. Will mostly need an implant on the third tooth in the future. When my tooth was extracted it had the same infection at the base of the root as in your picture.

    • Unfortunately, your situation is all-too-common. I hope pictures like the ones we have shared and stories such as yours will make people think before they go down that slippery slope with root canals.

      Best of luck to you. Thanks for sharing your story.

  35. i’ve been treated for squamous(?) cell cancer. i’m 5 years out and considered cured. chemo was cisplatan and 33 radiation treatments to frontal and both sides of jaw. plus a radical neck dissection. anyway, after 10yrs or so i had ANOTHER root canal done on the same tooth #3. after 8 months i’m having problems again. next week i go back to endodontist to see what’s up. each root canal cost me one grand. the option of having tooth pulled has its own set of complications ( 36 treatments in hypobaric chamber with no guarantee of not having a dry socket). i’m on fixed income (my wife just recently lost her job to boot) and I simply do not have the money for a 3rd on the same tooth.
    i guess, because of the cancer treatment, i just agonize over what to do. any ideas? oh, by the way i live in the greater kansas city metroplex.

  36. […] Why Are Root Canals Bad? by Dr. Marvin http://naturaldentistry.us/1676/why-are-root-canals-bad/ […]

  37. […] Why Are Root Canals Bad? by Dr. Marvin http://naturaldentistry.us/1676/why-are-root-canals-bad/ […]

  38. Fiaz Akbar Jafri Says: August 12, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Dear Dr. Can you advice how one should get rid of root canals. What precautions we should take and questions be asked to dental dr. We went to a a renowned doctor in Pakistan and he says that it will be removed very easily !! I have doubts. Take care.

    • Fiaz Akbar Jafri,

      Great comment.

      Be wary of dentists who are confident that they can take out teeth. Chances are they do not remove the infected bone surrounding the root canal treated tooth. It requires skills and experience to remove the bone properly. The hardest part is figuring out how much bone to remove and save.

      Keep asking questions.

      Dr. Marvin

    • Ask these questions:

      Do you remove the PDL? (periodontal ligament)

      If yes, then ask them how.

      If they hesitate or if they look puzzled, then find another dentist.

      Do they use a bone graft?

      If yes, then ask if you are sensitive to the material.

      If they don’t know how, then find another dentist.

      I’ve found that most people are sensitive to bone graft materials unless it is their own bone.

      Hope these questions help.

  39. I’ve researched some info online and found that there is a specific gel called emdogain that can regrow bones and tissues successfully here in the US and other countries. It would be nice if this gel is available to the public, but then again how can the dentistry make any money if we can regrow our bones. I’m wondering what others think. PerioPeak is the only practice in Washington that have done this since 2006 non surgically.

  40. Hello, I am posting as a mother. My daughter suffered a traumatic fall last year on the school playground. She knocked out her two top permanent teeth. As the teeth were found and splinted in, her dentist recommended a root canal to save the teeth. She has been in constant pain in her joints since the root canals were perfromed. Sne is seeing a rhemutologist who says that her autoimmune system is attacking itself. She was a healthy child before the fall. She is 12 years old. I do not know what to do. She does not want me to have the teeth pulled and the medical professionals do not believe the pain stems from the root canals. I hate seeing her in pain and it has made me highly depressed. I am praying for a miracle. I don’t want my daughter to be in harms way with these root canals. PLEASE HELP!!!

    • Tanya,

      I too am a parent and I feel for you. A single incident on the school playground can affect a person for life. In this case, she will have to deal with the front teeth for the rest of her life!

      First of all, you are not going to get much support for your argument that the root canals and her health issues are related. It’s just not accepted by mainstream health care professionals. On the other hand, if you are more holistic and open-minded, you’ll understand that the mouth and the rest of the body are related. If you want to know the truth, then you’ll need to know the ingredients of every material used in the root canal, see how your daughter reacts to those ingredients, and see if that elicits an autoimmune response. That’s very difficult to do as most dentists don’t go to those extremes before performing treatment.

      At this point, your options are to extract the 2 teeth that were damaged. Somehow manage to temporarily replace the 2 teeth until her body stops growing (in her 20s) and then start looking at permanent solutions such as 2 ceramic implants at that time.

      There’s no promise that the autoimmune issue will go away once the teeth are extracted and sockets cleaned out but you are on to something if her symptoms started right after the root canals were completed.

      Keep praying.
      Dr. Marvin

  41. Fiaz Akbar Jafri,

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you are seeking more information on the topics of root canals and amalgam fillings. Do what is best for you and your wife’s health. And continue to spread the news about these important topics. Dr.Marvin

  42. Fiaz Akbar Jafri Says: June 24, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Dear Dr.

    I am 100% convinced that one of the cause of cancer is root canals. I have spoken to many patients and all of have amlagams and roots canals done. My wife had root canal about 20 years back and she got pancreatic cancer 4 years back. She is tough doing fine but seriously thinking to get rid of all amalgams and her root canal asap. We are in Pakistan and any advise will be very helpfull. Have bought noted books on this subject by Dr. George Meinig and Dr. Huggins. Instead of critising what harm in extracting and seeing the tooth and see results. I think all you are doing in good faith for the humanity.

  43. i am an ayurvedic dentist from gujrat india i extarted the tooth without anestesia.this is theory of ayurved aand yoga thetrapy
    i want to fiil the natural tree for dental carees
    plase contact me
    dr.jasyukh makwana+91-09428204089

  44. Dr. Marvin, thank you for a very interesting and informative website. I wouldn’t be surprised if your former health problems were in part caused by daily exposure to the mercury in the amalgam fillings you were using. Have you thought of that?

    I’m just in the process of trying to find a good alternative dentist here in Auckland New Zealand (a bit north of Auckland). We have had a dentist that we really like – he’s given us many a good family deal on crowns, good price on root canals and now he’s done three implants on my husband. We’ve begged him in the past to use something other than amalgam for our fillings – he insisted they were fine. So only yesterday did my husband put his foot down and insist – and he got a crystal one. He’s younger than us, but he won’t seem to do the study and research to learn that his ways are toxic to him, his staff and his patients.

    We’re now going to have to find another dentist to remove all our root canals and amalgam fillings – all on the pension, that my husband will be getting in a few months. Bummer! 🙁

    • I know many of my health problems are mercury-related. I get tested for mercury levels regularly and even with all the precautions we take, I still have elevated levels on occasion. I’m sure my levels were through the roof when I was working in a traditional practice.

      Many dentists prefer amalgam because they are much easier to work with. Some dentists just like to stick with what they are most comfortable with. Some just don’t want to take the time to do the research. Others have done the research, but made their own decisions on how to practice. In any case, I’m glad you were able to stand up for what you believe in. Good luck moving forward!

  45. David Stewart DDS Says: April 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    This is the most irresonsible bunch of ******** I’ve ever heard! All of it! You’re so full of it. The reason this is here is that you can’t make a living doing real dentistry, but have to scare people into quackery of the highest. Shame on you.

    • Wow Dave, this is a very well-thought out, educated response. I’ve left it on the site because I don’t think people should be censored within limits, but I did edit the foul language as there is no place for it in my site.

      While I appreciate the fact that you disagree with me, Dr. George Meinig, Dr. Weston A Price, Dr. Tomas Rau, and many, many more, I think you’d find a new appreciation for dentistry — as would your patience — if you opened your mind and accepted that changing research shows that much of traditional dentistry has been bad for our patient’s health over the years. No one said it was malicious… we just didn’t know that there was a better, healthier way to do dentistry. Heck, yesterday the US government announced support for a phasing out of amalgam fillings, so now even the government is beginning to move toward a healthier approach to our craft.

      I always appreciate constructive criticism and other view points, but please try to keep the language clean, as our website has tens of thousands of visitors every month and not all are okay with vulgarity.
      Dr. Marvin

      PS: I had a very, very successful traditional practice for many years. I sold that practice and had personal health problems, as did my family. Traditional medicine wasn’t helping so we sought other ways. As we learned more and opened our minds, not only did we become more personally enriched, our health also improved. Ultimately, it lead me to create my new practice. Now I see the positive effects every day with my patients. So please, before you throw insults about how I’m “full of it” and that I “can’t make a living doing real dentistry”, get the facts straight and understand where I’m coming from. The world is a better place when we’re all a bit more tolerant.

      • Dr. Marvin,

        That post from David Stewart DDS is the real shame here – his ignorance and hatred toward you are appalling. Excellent reply you gave. If he was given the “privilege” of spending even 1 day in my shoes, he’s rethink his foul mouth and closed off mindset. I’ve suffered for 14 years – first from mercury poisoning from a tiny little amalgam filling that was 25 yrs old and leaching. I spent money and time at neurologists over the years and always got the same answer – we can’t find anything wrong with you and that was always delivered with a “you’re crazy look”. Within 2 hours of replacing that amalgam filling with composite it was like the bag on my head was gone. 10 years of my life I suffered with numerous neuro probs. For the past 14 years, I’ve had more health problems then I care to recount – mostly autoimmune – all starting after my first root canal in 1998. Yesterday I learned that all three root canal teeth are highly infected and must come out. I’m about 99% positive this is why I’ve suffered from swollen parotid glands and all the lymph glands in my neck have been swollen for years. I look so much heavier in my face than I am because of all the swelling. Medical doctors have had no answers for me. Some individuals are more susceptible to dental materials then others, but “conventional” dentists fail to acknowledge this fact. The overall fact is – dental materials can harm, maim and even kill people. Why should anyone sacrifice their life because of a desire to hide these truths for the sake of money. I’ve lost some of the best years of my life (my 30’s) because I’ve felt like crap for the past 14 years – all because I trusted “real dentistry” and paid the highest of prices for that trust!

        Dr. Marvin – keep speaking out your truth. There are many more people who believe and support you then there are the unpleasant and closed minded non-believers.

        • I’m in my 30’s and have spent the last 6 years in pain. I had previously had 3 root canals and the day after I had my 4th root canal, it changed my world. I was always in pain after that and everything on the x-ray looked fine. I had horrible headaches and ache in my jaw. A year later the tooth directly above that 4th root canaled tooth,became inflamed and I had it removed. My headaches went away. I had to have more dental work done and the dentist cracked the tooth as she was filling it, it eventually also got a root canal. I constantly had pain, which eventually resulted in an extraction of that tooth. Unfortunately, I had an implant immediately put in and it caused nerve damage. I had the implant removed and I have a thick feeling in my cheek and feel that the paratoid gland is thick. I also have two other root canaled teeth, the same side my lymph nodes and paratoid gland are always active. SHould I remove these root canals? So, I’ve had three root canaled teeth removed and have two left to remove. I’m 99% sure these teeth need to go and are causing me to feel achy. How do you feel now?

  46. Nine Out of Ten Says: December 15, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    My older brother almost died of a brain infection stemming from a root canal!!! Just wanted to post this in case there were any sceptics. The infection(s), there were 4 or more different ones, attacked his brain and he ended up having to have brain surgery. The medications could not even get to the infections. He can no longer do the work he used to because it did damage to his brain.

    • Thank you for sharing your story… I do think people underestimate the power of an infection and think “it can’t happen to me”. Your brother is a sobering reminder that it can and does happen. Thank you so much for sharing your story… wishing you and your brother the best of health.
      Dr. Marvin

  47. If you are given penicillin with root canal will that stop a second infection?

    • Antibiotics won’t prevent infections. It can be used effectively to eliminate current infections, but won’t prevent future infections, which is the problems with treating the problem instead of the cause.

  48. I bet those RCT’s were performed by G.P’s! I get so frustrated with the non-quality of our referring dentist’s root canals. Done properly by a specialist, a good one, those infections are completly elliminated. G.P.s tend to think that they did “good enough” or that if they couldn’t reach the apex then no one can, well, they tend to be wrong. Also the obturation that I see from G.P.’s is very “weak” with the use of a single cone, you are right, that wouldn’t stop a recurrent abscess from forming.

  49. More on the “cool plasma torches”:

    It’s estimated that 10%-15% of root canal patients return with reinfections. This is due to the difficulty in sterilizing all the dentinal tubules during the root canal procedure.


    “Cold plasma might do a more reliable job, according to researchers. The latest plasma devices are capable of generating thin plasma plumes that can fit into a tooth’s root canal, which typically has a diameter of 3 millimeters.

    At the University of Southern California, a team of engineers and dentists led by Chunqi Jiang have been working on a cold-plasma jet capable of forming a plasma plume that’s 3 centimeters long and less than 1 mm in diameter and that can reach all the way into the root canal. Jiang has used her plasma jet to kill saliva-derived biofilm, a slimy layer of bacteria that has shown some resistance to antibiotics.”

    Essentially, the plasma oxidizes all pathogens on contact (including biofilms). And since it is in the 4th plasma state…can penetrate into all crevices very quickly, easily & safely.

    “The researchers placed temperature sensors on the extracted teeth before treatment and found that the temperature of the tooth increased for just five degrees after 10 minutes of exposure to the plasma, Jiang said.

    “Atomic oxygen [a single atom of oxygen, instead of the more common O2 molecule] appears to be the antibacterial agent,” according to plasma emission spectroscopy obtained during the experiments, she said.

    Sedghizadeh said the oxygen free radicals might be disrupting the cellular membranes of the biofilms in order to cause their demise and that the plasma plume’s adjustable, fluid reach allowed the disinfection to occur even in the hardest-to-reach areas of the root canal.

    “We believe we’re the first team to apply plasma for biofilm disinfection in root canals,” Jiang added. “This collaboration is very unique. We’re attacking frontier problems, and we’re happy to be broadening our fields.””

  50. Are “cool plasma torches” commercially-available yet?

    They have already proven effective in lab tests for destroying biofilms and sterilizing dentinal tubules in root canals. If this is possible, then reinfections from root canals can be prevented – and it would become a viable option.

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