Root Canal Cover-up...EXPOSED!
Root Canal Treatment
Michael C. Goldman, DDS"I'd rather have a root canal !" How many times have we heard comedians use that in their routines? Why does it evoke such strong fear and worry? And why has there been a book recently written with the above title: Root Canal Cover-up EXPOSED! I will attempt to answer these questions. This is very exciting stuff.....! How 'bout very interesting ?........ Would you believe: it makes OK reading in a pinch ?
What if I were to tell you that most of the root canal treatment I do is done without the need for anesthesia ! The treatment is often so innocuous to the patient that the tooth does not even need to be numbed. That is because the nerve is most often already dead and non-functioning in the tooth so there is no feeling in the tooth. But that is not the kind of root canal treatment you hear about. You hear about the bad ones. Why are some bad and some easy?
Well, it's not the treatment that is sometimes bad; it's the tooth. No, I'm not just playing with words. What I mean is that the treatment is essentially the same in either an easy or a bad case. If the tooth is in a calm state, the treatment is usually innocuous and simple, sometimes requiring anesthetic (local) and sometimes not. If, on the other hand, the tooth is in a painful, inflamed state, then - and only sometimes - the treatment can be a lot more uncomfortable.
As I said, the treatment is essentially the same either way, but when a tooth is in a painful state, doing anything to it can be uncomfortable. It's like if you had a badly twisted ankle - you'd swear it was broken. You go to the hospital and get it x-rayed and checked. The doctor comes in and says, "It's fine, just a sprain. All you need is an Ace bandage. Guess what...it hurts putting on the simple Ace bandage! Not because wrapping an Ace bandage is painful, but because the ankle is. See what I mean?
There are several reasons why root canal treatment might be needed but only a few of them include situations in which the tooth is in a painful state to begin with. Sometimes the tooth is in an extremely painful state. And that's before anything is done to it.
In the earlier stages of the root canal problem, the tooth is often symptom-free, or only mildly uncomfortable. So you can see that this is the time to do the treatment rather than waiting for it to get to a bad toothache if possible. Historically, many dentists didn't do root canal treatment, or didn't like to do it, so they avoided it many times by using medications in the tooth to put off the problem. Sometimes, with luck, the tooth recovered. More often than not, I believe, the tooth sooner or later flared up and had to be treated, but now had to be treated in a more inflamed or infected state. Moreover, the nerves inside the tooth - in nature's attempt to heal it - usually shrunk and changed in ways that made it more difficult to do the root canal treatment...sometimes, even making it impossible to do it. It is important to treat unhealthy root canals as early as possible. It's easier for both patient and dentist and the result is more likely to be a good one!
EXPOSED!....What's that all about? Recently a book was published by a dentist named George Meinig centering on the research done about the turn of the century by a remarkable dentist named Weston Price. Dr Price did a lot of very interesting research relating to root canal infection and treatment spanning a period of about twenty-five years with some amazing results.
The basic notion behind his work was the idea of focal infections which was a very big deal in medical thinking at that time. It is the idea that an infection someplace in the body - tonsil, gums, toenail, ear, or root canal - might be able to spread to another perhaps far remote part of the body. There was the feeling that was largely accepted that a gum infection might be able to end up somehow in the heart and result in a life-threatening infection there. That idea, while never disproved, just sort of faded away by and large (although we still give antibiotic to prevent it!!!).
What happened was that with the advent of penicillin and other wonder-drugs to combat infection, concern for where the infection was coming from was suddenly less important than just which particular germ the infection was. The identity of the germ bacteria dictated which particular wonder-drug antibiotic was needed and that, in a nutshell, was that! "...Next patient!" We got away from treating the cause to treating the symptom .
If the way Dr. Meinig describes it in his book is accurate, the political debate among medical/dental leaders at the time must have been pretty hot and heavy! No doubt the pharmaceutical companies had their input, too... As with any new wave of thought, those that held to old ways were labeled old-fashioned and reactionary, whereas those that promoted the new were seen as modern and with it. The new way won the day. Some ground was gained, no doubt, but something may have been lost in the process.
Re-enter Dr. Weston Price. He took infected teeth or extracts of them from patients suffering from a wide range of serious "medical" problems. He implanted these under the skin of laboratory animals....Guess what happened? The laboratory animal quickly came down with the very same disease ! I might have expected that an infection from a tooth might go somewhere. Like if ten animals had parts of an infected tooth implanted, that one might get an infection in the brain, another in the heart, and another somewhere else and so on...that seems reasonable. But that's not what he found at all! What Dr Price saw and reported was that if the patient had infected kidneys and his infected tooth was implanted in several lab animals, essentially all the animals quickly developed infected kidneys! I don't think contemporary medical wisdom can explain that.
Moreover, Dr. Price claimed to have found that 95% of focal infections started in the teeth and tonsils! Part and parcel in with this is the idea that harmless bacteria normally found in the mouth get trapped in infected teeth (and tonsils) and somehow mutate into a dangerous form. The new mutated bacteria and / or the toxic poisons they create travel through the blood stream and lymphatic system to remote body parts and cause damage.
As if that were not bad enough, Dr. Price went on to show that even when root canal treatment is done according to accepted modern principles [at that time - early 1900's]...and even when the follow-up x-rays showed good healing of the bone around the root (which has been thought to prove that the infection is gone) - that even then, the mutant bacteria and their toxins are often still there spreading their poison! This is a very different scenario from what I was told in dental school and in all the years up to now! All I can say is that I read the book with an open mind and with the ability to challenge allegations by virtue of my training and many years of experience and I have to say it was either a total fabrication - and I mean 100% - or it was compelling.
Now for "The rest of the story"...as Paul Harvey used to say..... or at least some thoughts of mine....
I have personally tried to get to the bottom of this mystery. I have had personal written as well as personal phone communication with Dr. Meinig himself as well as the PPNF (Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation).
To both parties I asked one simple basic question [among many others]....
Since the research of Dr. Price is so incredibly important and so incredibly different from other dental and medical research results, and since what it suggests should have such far-reaching implications on how dentistry and medicine is practiced, HAS ANYBODY ELSE ATTEMPTED TO DUPLICATE AND PUBLISH HIS EXPERIMENTS?
Both PPNF and Meinig gave me the same answer..."No" !! I will add that Meinig suggests that much research following Price supports Price's findings, however it seems to me that it is not completely clear that is the case. Research cited in Meinig's book (1993 edition, at least, which is the only one I have) shows very old research by modern standards and much of it is not so clearly a clear support for Price's work. Asked the specific question stated, I was told "no". As far as I know Price's experiments have not been repeated and documented. And that is according to the PPNF, the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation - the organization totally dedicated to Weston Price [and Pottenger].
Keep in mind that Price did his experiments a hundred or so years ago and by today's standards his experiments were very simple and inexpensive. We would actually have to call them "primative and crude". That is not to say they were not very good, however. In fact, if he really did get the clear significant results that are claimed, then we would have to call his work all the more brilliant because of its simplicity! The simpler an experiment is, the less opportunity there is to misinterpret the results.
HOWEVER !.... and here's where I get uncomfortable with the whole thing... the claimed results are so staggeringly important for dentistry and medicine that anybody duplicating and publishing similar results would have to get the NOBEL PRIZE for so important a contribution to medical science.
So, if this work could be duplicated on a low budget with simple stuff, I cannot believe many, many, researchers in search of fame and fortune and contribution to the welfare of humanity would not have JUMPED at the chance ! I can only assume it has been tried but noboby has been able to show the same results...
I even asked PPNF why they thought nobody else had repeated this fantastic work since it was SO IMPORTANT... They said nobody was willing to sacrifice so many rabbits. Hello !!!!! Duh!!!
Are we on the same planet .... where every year probably thousands of rabbits are used to test all manner of medications and drugs, not to mention cosmetics, like mascara????? Why do I get the feeling something is not right here????
Don't get me wrong.... I am not advocating the use of animals in research or anything like that. It's just that we all know it IS being done and to suggest that's the reason a piece of earthshaking research is not being done is , well, it's just ...lame! So if you are reading this, PPNF or George Meinig, let me know if there's a better reason and I will pass it on! By the way, the research could just as easily be done with RATS! Anybody too sentimental about that?
So What do I believe ???
I think , like most things in life, the TRUTH is somewhere in-between.... I cannot believe the incredible results claimed by Price and his followers including Meinig that state extremely important results that have NEVER been corroborated by other science. Bits and pieces of scientific research HAS, however, supported the focal infection theory and some of what Price talked about, just never the whole thing. And that's important.
PPNF and Meinig would have you believe that it is hard science that root canals will kill you slowly, if not quickly. While it is possible they may be proven correct, you need to know it is NOT yet proven fact. And they have already had a century to prove it.
I think there is reason to think that root canal infection CAN be the source of infection to other parts of the body, even if not as clear-cut and simplistic as Price would have had us believe.
I think it makes sense to not have root canal infections and that if there is one, to try very hard to assure as much as possible that it has been eliminated.
I think patients need to carefully use common sense in dealing with root canal problems !!! There is no simple answer in many situations. Therefore, I have tried to present a balanced discussion of the issues as I see them in the hope that the reader may be in a better position to decide for him or herself what is best, without being badgered or scared into a decision by an overzealous healthcare provider who, while well-meaning, may never have fully examined the issues.
Please read on to get a more complete view of what I believe to be true and why...
The anatomy of a tooth is like this: There is a hollow space running down the center of each root. That is the nerve canal. It can have curves and small offshoots or branches to make it more complex than a straight "tube", but in all, that total space is the nerve- or root-canal space. In a healthy tooth the nerve and small blood vessels mainly occupy that space. When root-canal treatment is done, that canal is cleaned out to render it empty. Medications are usually used to "sterilize" that space...to kill any bacteria that might be remaining after physically cleaning it out. Then it is filled up with various techniques and materials to obliterate the space.
I recently found the following illustration in a dental research article. It shows the complex nature of the nerve tissue anatomy inside several different teeth. The teeth were stained to add color and cut into thin sections. As you can see, the nerve canal is not really just "a canal", but is really a complex array of larger and smaller branches that tend to come together into a common chamber in the top portion of the tooth. This should help give you a mental picture of the true nature of the internal anatomy of a tooth's nerve system.
What Dr. Price and Dr. Meinig showed, and what all modern root canal dentists know, is that it is more complex than that. Not only is there this large central nerve-canal space to worry about, but, rather, that there are millions of little tunnels coming off the central nerve-canal space radiating through the body of the tooth root to the exterior surface of the tooth root. The tooth root surface is in contact with the blood stream and then bone. The "little tunnels" or dentinal tubules, as they are correctly called comprise literally miles of tunnels into which bacteria from the nerve-canal space can go and hide, well away from the physical and chemical efforts of the dentist. This has been shown more recently and confirmed by the electron-microscope!
What does all this mean? What are the implications? Well it seems to me there are several. First, it seems ever more important to do the root-canal treatment as early as possible. In addition to making the treatment easier for you as discussed in the beginning, it minimizes the opportunity for infection to develop inside the tooth which might be able to subsequently hide in the tubules and from there spread havoc around your body.
Second, one medication seems to be capable of really killing the bacteria inside the tooth, calcium hydroxide. Calcium hydroxide is still recognized to be more effective than other more "modern" medications, but is only infrequently used and usually only for special situations. In my opinion, there is no reason why it should not be routinely used and for a long enough time period to do the job (about a month). The norm today among general dentists as well as most root canal specialists is to either finish the treatment in one appointment or perhaps in a couple of appointments a week apart. Little real effort is apparent to sterilize the canal, probably again because of the "modern" thinking that if an infection is still there, we'll just knock it out with one or another antibiotic later. Incidentally, the root canal specialists in Sweden are taught to use calcium hydroxide routinely, or so I have been told. Sweden has been ahead of us in dealing with many of the "alternative" issues of modern dentistry, like banning the use of amalgam, for example.
Finally, it might be possible to connect medical problems remote to the teeth to a root canal problem - whether treated or not or whether symptomatic or not. I'm treading on shaky ground here because none of this is part of accepted dental therapy and for the present is considered by the powers that be to be unproven...perhaps even nonsense! I can only advocate good conventional dental care - perhaps with minor, but significant, changes in emphasis, and an open mind. There are also some exciting correlations from acupuncture science to help suggest possible relationships between specific teeth and specific remote body parts. These energetic acupuncture connections suggest that from the perspective of an acupuncturist, dysfunction in a tooth or around a tooth may very well effect its acupuncture meridian and thereby effect body tissues elsewhere in the body connected to that same meridian.....For example, an abscessed upper front tooth might create problems in the kidney, urinary organs, sex organs, or rectal areas. A problem in a lower 6-year molar (largest molar closest to the front) might relate to problems in the nose, lungs or rectum. Many of these relationships, fortunately, have already been charted out for us. It's very bizarre stuff, indeed !
So what's the problem if I use calcium hydroxide?
The big question remaining about what I have suggested here is even if the canals and tiny tubules can be made totally bacteria free...which may or may not be the case.... what happens after a period of time. A week, year...ten years? Do bacteria come in from the outside and re-habitate the tubules? We know it is possible, because it happens in gum disease. If it happens that way, is it a problem? Is it the same as when bacteria are left in there when root canal treatment is done? It may seem logical to think "yes"...but we just simply don't know.
Can root canals be tested somehow?
Perhaps.....There have been dentists that "test" teeth using kinesiology, or acupuncture, ...or electrical acupuncture spin-offs like computerized "Voll testing". Are they valid? perhaps....perhaps not.... We don't know for sure. Am I against these techniques? No, definitely not. Any indicator is helpful. But would I take out a tooth of my own based on them?....NO way!!!
Is there hope in this mess?
I think so... testing techniques are developing as more interest [and money] are beginning to surround these issues. At present a very interesting test has been developed by some very clever people at Affinity Labeling Corp. out of University of Kentucky.
There is a new test "Affinity Testing" which looks promising and is based on science. How accurate is it?....I don't know. I have it in my office, but I don't yet know how much to depend on it. It seems definitely a step in the right direction !!
They have developed a very sophisticated test for toxins around teeth either from the gums or from the root canals. Is it valid? Maybe... But to me it looks like the best and most valid and most scientifically based way to test teeth at this time. And that's a lot ! They have a very good website with lots of good info at http://www.altcorp.com . If you've read all this stuff up to here, you definitely should check them out.
2011 update: Affinity testing has not been available for a few years and does not appear to be coming back. Not sure why, but I would guess the business just went bust for lack of customer [dentist] support so I guess most other dentists were not that impressed with it either..... but maybe there's some other reason that I don't know.
They have tried to get results about what happens over time with root canal teeth that are treated by conventional means and by using the Biocalex technique. In my personal experience with Biocalex I feel it is NOT THE WAY TO GO. There are many well-documented problems with Biocalex including splitting of teeth (preventing them from ever being saved) , post-treatment pain and strange discomforts, inability to re-treat the tooth again if needed later, and inability to see the results on x-rays after period of time. I HAVE USED BIOCALEX SEVERAL TIMES AND WILL NEVER USE IT AGAIN ON MY PATIENTS.
Calcium Hydroxide, on the other hand, has been dependable and comfortable for many years in my hands with my patients and I continue to use it as described above. CALCIUM HYDROXIDE IS NOT THE SAME THING AS BIOCALEX. CALCIUM HYDROXIDE IS NOT THE SAME THING AS BIOCALEX. CALCIUM HYDROXIDE IS NOT THE SAME THING AS BIOCALEX. Have I made my point clear enough?
It is my hope that this article helps readers reach reasonable and rational decisions about their dental health.
In March 2011, I received a very interesting email from a reader in Venezuela. I get emails from all over the planet but I found this one particularly satisfying and potentially helpful to readers of this site. I have included it here with his permission:
My name is Michael Day.I practiced for 30 years as a spiritually oriented psychotherapistplus I have a 25 year professional background in natural medicine consulting.I am an ardent researcher of alternative health informationand natural or alternative medicine, organic food, conscientious supplementation,exercise, and meditation have all been core aspects of my daily life for over 30 years.I had a mouthful of mercury fillings removed way back in 1989.
This week...I have been undergoing my fifth root canal.
Half way through the process,
I realized that it had been a few years
since I had researched
the so-called "toxic root canal controversy".
So, off to google I went to see what's new.
Back in 2004,
due to reading the works of Weston Price and George Meinig...
I interviewed 40 "alternative" dentists
who had publicly advertised
that they do extraction of asymptomatic root canal teeth
especially when the patient is challenged by chronic illness.
This subject deeply concerned mebecause I have definitely been challenged by chronic illness...
and according to Price and Meinig...
I was one of those poor ignorant human beings
who was caught in the cross hairs
of four potentially deadly commie marxist root canals
that were just waiting for the right moment
to modernize their attack
by turning themselves into deadly dental suicide bombers.
So, when I was doing my interviews...
I asked each of these dentists the same basic questions:
"What have you found when you followed up
with your chronic illness patients
who have let you removetheir asymptomatic root canal teeth?"
Every single dentist said basically the same thing...
"Oh...we have no time for that!
The work of Weston Price and George Meinig
is good enough for us."
"Then how do you know that what you are doing
is actually helping enough people
to truly merit continuing to do it
without any accompanying follow up research?
"Again...the work of Weston Price and George Meinig
is good enough for us and...
if we weren't helping people...
we don't believe that we'd get so many referrals".
Granted, these dentists may be truly helping some people.
(Each one admitted that not every person with chronic illness was helped.)
They may also possibly be correct
in a good percentage of the assumptions they're making.
However, their justification for this drastic dental trend
has never successfully reassured me...
especially because their perspectiveinsists on occupying the same psychic space
as my common sense!
not until this morning...
did I finally find a dentist
who seems like he's willing
to breathe a little sanity
into this controversy.
it really touches me that...
- he has a mercury free office
- he's dedicated to natural/alternative medicine
- he works hard to provide a healing environment
- he answers emails!!
- and...he even records his own voicemail greeting!
What's really cool is that the second link below
explains how he deals specifically with a question
that's been bothering me for ages.
When you read this page...
even if you never had this question...
I'm sure you'll find it reassuring.
Personally, I really wishthat I had connected with Dr. Goldman back in 2004because the fear that had been instilled in me by Price and Meinigcaused me to take far too long with my research.Consequently, I lost two crucial teethand had to get a bridge plus a cantilever crown.
if the subject of root canals
and their effect on health and wellness
has ever been important to you...
you owe it to yourself
to read the two pages linked below.
And if you've never had to deal with this
but know someone who has...
send this to them.Many folks lose much sleep trying to figure this out
and one of your friends
might be quietly suffering this decision...right now.
warmest regards,michael day
This pamphlet was written in the hope that it will increase understanding about a topic that seems important from time to time. Obviously it is only part of the whole story, so if you have questions after reading this please do not hesitate to ask or call. Also, if there is a topic that you think would be helpful, please suggest it.
Michael C. Goldman, DDS
General and Cosmetic Dentistry
3815 East-West Highway
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
Phone (301) 656-6171
Michael Goldman DDS
3815 East-West Highway
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
More info about the following is available if you select "topics".
Holism in dentistry is an approach to dental treatment, primarily caring for patients' health and safety from both a conventional as well as "alternative healthcare" point of view. It is sometimes called "biological" dentistry or "biocompatible" dentistry. In it's fullest sense, I believe it acknowledges and deals with the mind, body and spirit of the patient, not just his or her "teeth". See Topics / Info.....
Cosmetic dentistry is about doing quality , esthetic dentistry in a way that looks natural to begin with, and furthermore, can even improve one's attractiveness through techniques such as bonding, bleaching, veneers, caps, implants and more. It can be like "instant orthodontics" in correcting crooked, twisted or misplaced teeth in many instances. Dark or misshapen teeth can be restored. Smiles that lack youthful vigor or beauty can be revitalized! See Topics / Info..
Bleaching, veneers, bonding, caps, bridges, and implants are cosmetic dentistry treatments that are also discussed in Cosmetic Dentistry, and more...located in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815 area near Washington DC.