Root canal treatment has been practiced for over 70 years, and is a recognized specialty by the American Dental Association. The purpose of root canal therapy is to keep a tooth by mechanically removing the source of infection (dead tissues) from inside the root of the tooth (canal). The body naturally resolves the infection (abscess) located at the end of the tooth, sometimes needing the help of an antibiotic. Infections create variable symptoms of pain and swelling, ranging from none to severe, so the number of visits required to treat the tooth is dependent upon how the body reacts after each visit. It normally takes 1-2 visits, but it could take more. A conventional criteria for successful Root Canal treatment is the absence of pain.
Once it is determined that treatment is “successful”, the tooth needs either a filling or a crown to protect it from possible future breakage, for root canal filled teeth become brittle. It is estimated 24 million teeth are treated per year with root canal therapy. If the teeth were instead removed, the options of replacing them are usually more costly and less natural. Those options include removable partial dentures, full dentures (if all teeth are gone), bridges, implants and combinations.
Based on a 25 year extensive study by respected researcher, Dr. Westin Price, scientific data suggests that root canal therapy is the cause of many systemic diseases and illnesses. Although root canal therapy is usually successful in eliminating pain and swelling associated with dead teeth, allowing those dead teeth to remain in the mouth to function, the side effects may be hazardous to overall health. It is estimated that only about 30% of the population has a healthy enough immune system to ward off those side effects.
The problem is that root canal therapy cannot sterilize the inside of the tooth. As a result, the trapped bacteria mutate and migrate to infect and affect the heart, kidneys, eyes, stomach, and many other body tissues. Called the focal theory of infection, a person can have an infection someplace and that the bacteria involved can migrate by way of the bloodstream to another area and start a whole new infection. Dr. Price devised a testing method that showed root canal filled teeth that otherwise seemed healthy were actually still infected. This was done by implanting root canal filled teeth under the skin of laboratory animals. He found, in almost every case, that when the root canal filled tooth of a person with a disease was extracted and imbedded in an animal, the animal would develop that person's disease. Those infections proved so devastating that most animals died with 3-12 days. When these same teeth were sterilized with steam heat and embedded in the animals, no adverse health effects were experienced. Furthermore, a large percentage of people recovered from their illnesses after extraction of the infected root canal filled teeth used in the experiments.
Modern experiences also support this theory. Dr. Issels, a German physician, recommends extraction of root canal teeth as part of his protocol for terminal cancer patients. Over the last 40 years with 16,000 patients, he has observed a 24% total remission rate. Also, some transplant surgeons require root canal filled teeth be extracted before performing transplant surgery, because of the risk of focal infection to the new organ from the teeth.
To summarize, Dr. Price did not say that root canal therapy should be abolished. Rather, he stated there are potential serious side effects and that the health of a person's immune system must be considered before performing a root canal procedure. Also, if a person has chronic health problems, existing root canal filled teeth or untreated dead teeth should not be ignored as a possible cause.
All this has changed since 2005 when Oxygen/Ozone was introduced to dentistry. Please see the following section called “Oxygen/Ozone” as this minimally invasive procedure is an ideal way of biologically managing infections of the head and neck and elsewhere in the body.
With our 3D Cone Beam CT imaging we can now see exactly the status of any of your root canals to determine whether or not there is any surrounding pathology (bone loss) to best determine your best course of treatment that is appropriate for you.