FAQ: Are Root Canals Safe?  What Options Do I Have?

FAQ: Are Root Canals Safe? What Options Do I Have?

We just had someone call and ask “What alternatives to root canal therapy do we offer?”

First of all, are root canals bad? YES!!!!

Root canals are bad because bacteria can remain and still colonize when root canal therapy has been completed.  When this happens, Dr. Weston Price has studied systemic effects from the bacteria originating from the root canaled teeth.

So if your tooth is abscessed or you have a massive tooth ache, what can you do?

Besides leaving it alone and suffering through the pain and consequences, one can choose to:

1:  Have the tooth taken out or extracted.  Doing this will eliminate the infection and many of the bugs.

2.  Have the root canal done but filled with Gutta Percha.  (what most dentists use).  This however does not reduce the bacterial load.

3.  Have the root canal done but filled with an alkaline material called Biocalyx.  This material does a much better job eliminating the bacterial load, however not completely and not forever.

Of course, the best way to avoid a root canal or this situation is to care for your teeth before you need to make this choice.

If I had a toothache and had to decide, I’d contemplate using Biocalyx or having the tooth extracted and a metal-free removable partial or bridge placed.

The number one reason to keep the tooth is that it may be one of your last teeth.  It may be important to keep this tooth as an anchor for a future partial denture, dentures, bridges, or for supporting anything… (not to forget… the tooth is available to chew with).

If you have the tooth extracted, you must decide what to replace the tooth with.  Leaving a space in the jaw usually ends up with bigger problems down the road.  (which I’ll leave for a separate blog post)

When the tooth is extracted you pretty much have 3 choices:

1)  Ideal choice:  A removable metal-free partial. Be sure it is made out of a biocompatible material because a lot of the partial dentures being made are made out of metal and the pink color of the plastic comes from another metal – cadmium. If you are sensitive to metals or fear of the possibility of being allergic, choose to have biocompatibility testing done.

2)  Bridge:  This option is good if you don’t want any metal in your mouth. Please go to a biological dentist to see if this is an option. Sometimes if this troubled tooth is the furthest back, this option may not be necessary.

3)  Titanium Implant: Not recommended because of its metal characteristics. In short, metal oxides are bad for the body. Metal-free implants are a much better option.

4) Ceramic Implant: These white, zirconia dental implants are a much option than their titanium counterparts for a variety of reasons, including color and biocompatibility, but they still aren’t perfect and aren’t for everyone (to learn more, check out our ceramic dental implants article)

When faced with a root canal and you are holistic, find a good holistic dentist to go over the options with you.  Don’t decide this on your own.  Being educated is good however leave the dentistry and recommending to the dentist.


Comments

  1. I have decided on a compromised approch. I will have a root canal done on my molar (upper right, next to the rear molar) with gutta percha. Save my money and have it replaced with a Zirc implant within 2 years. Does this seem reasonable?

  2. Dear Dr. Marvin,
    I just done my Root canal second time on the same tooth, i haven’t rad any of the information before, 1st time root canal they did with metal which causes pain and infection in 2 years, so here Dr suggest that i have to do it again, my concern is if i remove the tooth, what will be the problem i can face, as i feel i may have infection again in future, which will be more worst than not having the tooth.

    Thanks
    Aradhana

    • Everyone is so different… My suggestion would be to get second or third opinions about what your options are. Ask lots of questions and make sure you are comfortable with what the doctor recommends before you proceed.

  3. I just had root canal done on my front tooth, which showed signs of being dead about 5 years ago. It recently got really discolored, and it was DEFINITELY dead, so I decided on the root canal. Now I’m becoming nervous reading all of this stuff about health concerns due to root canals. Should I really be concerned?

    • The information on our site is there for a reason: we oppose root canals. Of course, everyone in entitled to their own opinion. My recommendation would be to read The Root Canal Cover Up by George Meinig and read some pro-root canal literature and find out for yourself.

      We oppose root canals because of the potential to cause adverse health affects. That doesn’t mean every root canal will become infected. We just prefer to play it safe.

  4. TOM CONAHAN Says: January 25, 2012 at 3:51 am

    Hi, I founf your web site so interesting. I am suffering and every body says it’s not a root canel. I even had Tri Gem surgery. I was wondering if you could recommend some one in tnr New York or New jersey who dals wirh this since I’m to far away. Thanks so much for your help.
    Tom Conahan

    • Hi Tom, thanks for the comment. I do not have anyone in New York, although you may want to contact Dr. Felix Liao in Falls Church, Virginia. If you do a Google search for his name you should find him without a problem. Let him know I sent you.

      Good luck,
      Dr. Marvin

  5. What type of doctor/dentist can safely extract root canal teeth? After 17 years dependency on inhaled asthma steroids causing weakened bones and teeth, I’ve had 2 root canals due to cracked teeth. (I completely changed my diet 4 years ago and was dismayed that the diet changes eliminated my need for inhaled steroids. I stopped eating artificial ingredients, stopped drinking milk, started eating lots of fruits, vegetables, brown rice, beans etc. and less meat/poultry.) However, the steroid damage was done and I may experience more cracked teeth in the future no matter how careful I am. Regarding existing root canals, you emphasize that root canal removal must be done properly. Could you please explain? Thank you.

    • Susan,

      Good question. Most dentists and doctors believe that root canal therapy is great therapy since the goal is to keep the tooth functioning. I’m all about saving teeth except I don’t want to harm the body at the same time. That’s where our views differ.

      If you have an existing root canal treated tooth, then I suggest you go to a biological dentist who knows a thing or two about root canals and extractions. First of all, extracting a root canal treated tooth is 10x more difficult to remove. These teeth are dry, brittle, and tend to break. They require removal of bone between the roots and many times the bone on the outside has to be removed to get access to clean out all of the diseased bone. We use a slow speed drill with a lot of water irrigation to clean out the site. We also scrape the socket 360 degrees around so that there pretty much isn’t a socket any more. We get good bleeding to form and scrape out any loose or “infected” bone with a spoon-like instrument. For food measure we use several irrigation syringes to clean everything out before we close it back up. We sometimes use collagen and also sutures to close up the site to avoid any food to get in and also to keep the blood clot stable.

      Hope that helps.

      Many people come from all over to get their teeth extracted here by our dentists. Don’t be afraid to travel for good dental work done right the first time!

      Dr. Marvin

      ps. did you ever get to the root cause of why your teeth are cracking? This is another area of misdiagnosis in the dental specialty.

  6. Renzo Tejada Says: January 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I am very concern about this root canal that i got done a year ago. I must say that right after i got this done my general health has decayed dramatically. I am going to pull this tooth off for sure I am just concerned of how much would it’d cost me to get a partial?

    • Prices for partials can depend on many factors, including the type of partial, the materials, and the dentist you go. They could range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

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