12

votes

Root canals, inflammation, and disease

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 18, 2012 at 3:33 PM

I'm not a big reader of Dr. Mercola's, but his most recent email had an interesting article about the connection between root canals and cancer (the sensationalist headline), and some other diseases as well, including autoimmune disorders. This caught my eye, as I've been on the hunt for a possible cause for my persistently elevated CRP/ESR. This notion that leaving a dead tooth behind in your mouth, with its miles of hideouts for pathogens, is a terrible idea, has struck quite a chord with me.

When a dentist performs a root canal, he or she hollows out the tooth, then fills the hollow chamber with a substance (called guttapercha), which cuts off the tooth from its blood supply, so fluid can no longer circulate through the tooth. But the maze of tiny tubules remains. And bacteria, cut off from their food supply, hide out in these tunnels where they are remarkably safe from antibiotics and your own body's immune defenses.

Under the stresses of oxygen and nutrient deprivation, these formerly friendly organisms morph into stronger, more virulent anaerobes that produce a variety of potent toxins. What were once ordinary, friendly oral bacteria mutate into highly toxic pathogens lurking in the tubules of the dead tooth, just awaiting an opportunity to spread.

No amount of sterilization has been found effective in reaching these tubules???and just about every single root-canaled tooth has been found colonized by these bacteria, especially around the apex and in the periodontal ligament. Oftentimes, the infection extends down into the jawbone where it creates cavitations???areas of necrotic tissue in the jawbone itself.

I've had four (yep, four) root canals, plus countless fillings and caps over the years. My teeth are rotten, rotten, rotten. I used to have new cavities every year right on through my forties, but since changing my diet in 2007 I haven't had a single one. (Yay!)

And although every other health parameter has improved since then -- some of them quite spectacularly -- the one remaining issue that bugs me is this damn CRP reading (14.6), and what could possibly be causing it.

Have you had a root canal, or multiple root canals? Have you considered removing the teeth, or have you had it done? And if you've had root canals, do you notice any symptoms of persistent inflammation or other troubles?

I guess I'm looking to be persuaded either that this idea is sheer loonery, or that there's some merit in it, and I should seriously consider having the teeth removed. Sigh.

04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

(2261)

on January 23, 2014
at 11:52 PM

Thank you Dr. John. I recently learned all about the dangers of root canals. I called a biodentist in Washington state and didn't really get the answers I was looking for.

355ae559fc7c4038c63b5897d74e8a40

(196)

on May 19, 2013
at 12:11 PM

Root canal treatment can be painful, it's true, but if the tooth is dead it generally isn't, it's just tedious.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on March 17, 2012
at 02:30 PM

I can't say I've had any definitive answers; I'm still looking. I've been taking 1K of fish oil daily, and I recently upped the fat in my diet again by adding heavy cream back in. I feel pretty marvelous, but that's not a great check of CRP, since I felt marvelous when I had my labs done, lol. I do think I'd like to visit a holistic dentist and do what I can about my sad teeth. Thanks for the link!

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on February 19, 2012
at 10:15 PM

my daughter had many root canals attempting to keep a couple of her baby teeth implanted till her jaw finished growing as she never developed a full set of adult teeth. as i recall the process involved sanitizing the the "canal" before closing it off so that it wouldn't get infected. Dr. Mercola's premise just doesn't ring true in my experience.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on February 19, 2012
at 08:53 PM

I think you'd be ok even with grain fed beef. It's really chicken and pigs that are the problem. I sometimes pick up grain fed beef from the supermarket and have no problems with it.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 19, 2012
at 08:01 PM

Yeah, I have no idea what that even means. If I were cut off from my food supply and then went to "hide out," I'd die. OTOH, as Jenny J notes above, it could be he's just doing a very bad job of describing something that really happens, albeit differently.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 11:49 PM

Re: Mercola. I've always been a fan of the idea that science answers to evidence, not reputation. But I'm just a dumb artist, so what do I know? ;)

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 11:48 PM

That guy really effed you over, Ed. Glad his little shop of horrors was shut down. And that's fascinating about your blood sugar continuing to rise. I keep an eye on mine with a BG meter, too, and mostly it's in the 80s (my labs said 90 last June, so ). Between your history and the article, I'm now extremely curious about the correlation between bad teeth and autoimmunity.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 11:42 PM

Now that's some hacking, wjones. Thanks for this history. Going grassfed only is something I haven't tried yet, for no good reason other than $$. I wouldn't be surprised at all if I were experiencing some kind of secondary infection, as Marie calls it above.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 11:40 PM

Um...thanks, Dragonfly. ;)

Medium avatar

(4878)

on February 18, 2012
at 07:24 PM

Wow, but I'm not surprised. I feed my dog a "Paleo" Prey-Model Raw diet and many in the Raw feeding forums have found their dogs experience "secondary infection" issues with meats fed corn, grain, and soy.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on February 18, 2012
at 06:32 PM

Totally intuitive hit. I cry B.S. My body knows truth when I read it.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on February 18, 2012
at 06:30 PM

This makes a lot of sense to me. Several of my clients have children with allergies/intolerance to soy so extreme that they can only eat grassfed ruminants.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:34 PM

Haha, yeah "morphing" is kind of an alarm when written in any medical context. I should have added that apparently I am a big baby when it comes to my teeth, as I got my first cavity a few years ago and found the treatment pretty terrible. I agree that teeth can be a pain, and it sucks that some people are more prone to issues than others- the implants are great now that they are in, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone else!

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:25 PM

Funny, that although I know eff-all about microbiology, I stumbled over that exact line, wondering how such a "morphing" could happen. Regarding extraction, it does seem like an extreme response. I've been through several myself (I did say I had rotten teeth), and know the pain all too well. Nevertheless, back when I was getting constant cavities, I did consider having all my teeth removed and getting dentures. When I added up all the time, money and pain I'd spent over the years on my teeth, it didn't really seem like an extreme idea at the time.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:22 PM

Yeah, Jenny, I'm well aware of Mercola's shortcomings. However, he did reference Weston Price, whose ideas at least seem worthy of consideration. I don't know anything about Meinig, the other dentist he references, but I plan to dig around a bit. Even charlatans can point to the right idea once in a while by accident, lol.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:19 PM

Jeez, Ed, I guess that doesn't surprise me. Where there's money to be made, you'll find plenty of scams. Fortunately or unfortunately, my cavities were real, as evidenced by the pain they gave me. My dentists rarely "discovered" them; I would go see them when toothache had me on my knees.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:06 PM

Dr. Mercola still believes that vaccines cause autism, can shed, create resistant viral strains (seriously), and basically kill children. I wouldn't hold his microbiology skills to highly.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:03 PM

When my sister and I were young we'd go to the dentist and have 10 cavities at a time and have to go back for multiple filling appointments. Our mother found that, not a change of diet, but a change of dentists greatly changed our cavity rate. The earlier dentist eventually lost his license for drilling holes in teeth and filling them for no reason other than money.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:01 PM

Thanks for this suggestion; I've heard it before and may try it. However, it still doesn't address the root cause (bad pun; my apologies) of the elevated CRP. Surely it's not caused by a krill oil deficiency, lol.

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    (11996)
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10 Answers

9
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:02 PM

Dr. Mercola either is very bad at choosing his words, or he has no idea how organisms work. "Formerly friendly organisms" cannot "morph" into "stronger, more virulent anaerobes". This isn't science fiction, there is no such thing as transformers, and the language he uses is absolutely ridiculous. As far as this article goes- I call bullshit.

Most problems in the gums is going to be the reaction of streptococcus mutans with the tooth enamel in the presence of sugars. This will cause tooth decay and inflammation of the gums. Constant inflammation has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease/high blood pressure. By reducing the sugar in your diet and not drinking sodas (what's up paleo) you significantly reduce the risk of developing tooth decay. Because you haven't experiences cavities lately, I would say that is a good indication that the health in your oral cavity has already greatly improved.

And about getting your teeth removed- I lost two of my front teeth when I was stupid and young, and I would NOT recommend it. I got implants put in which the doctor told me was "so painless most people just fall asleep". It was the most painful thing that has ever happened to me. I ended up choking on my blood and biting down on something pokey that went into the roof of my mouth (you are conscious for this). My jaw was also damaged from having to hold it open for so long, it went numb for days afterwards and now it clicks VERY loudly. It is also RIDICULOUSLY expensive, and only partially covered by my insurance. I have had several heart surgeries, and honestly I would take a heart surgery any day over getting a tooth implant. That might sound extreme, but seriously, it was the worst thing ever.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:25 PM

Funny, that although I know eff-all about microbiology, I stumbled over that exact line, wondering how such a "morphing" could happen. Regarding extraction, it does seem like an extreme response. I've been through several myself (I did say I had rotten teeth), and know the pain all too well. Nevertheless, back when I was getting constant cavities, I did consider having all my teeth removed and getting dentures. When I added up all the time, money and pain I'd spent over the years on my teeth, it didn't really seem like an extreme idea at the time.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:34 PM

Haha, yeah "morphing" is kind of an alarm when written in any medical context. I should have added that apparently I am a big baby when it comes to my teeth, as I got my first cavity a few years ago and found the treatment pretty terrible. I agree that teeth can be a pain, and it sucks that some people are more prone to issues than others- the implants are great now that they are in, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone else!

5
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2012
at 05:48 PM

In regards to my initial comment under the OP about the fraud dentist, from an early age I wound up with a mouthful of fillings and tooth structure was weakened in a number of teeth, later causing cracks resulting in root canals and crowns in about 4 or 5 teeth (don't even remember), some of these going way back.

Today I have Hashimoto's and peripheral neuropathy, both resulting from autoimmunities - or one autoimmunity causing both conditions. I also have multinodular goiter which consists of 3 or 4 cysts growing in my thyroid and I have been told that they have been there for a long time. Multinodular goiter can be associated with autoimmune hyperthyroidism. In addition, though I have been low carb for a long time (about 1.5 decades) my fasting blood sugar was steadily rising into the prediabetic range in recent years and the functional medicine practitioner (paleo/primal) I have been working with says that it's likely that the same autoimmunity is also working on the pancreas. He has been successful in getting fasting blood sugar back down into the conventional normal range (90s) but I want to see it even lower into the more paleo 80s and this has happened on occasion. (I bought a blood glucose meter to track it myself) One endocrinologist, who has given me repeated biopsies, told me I should have my thyroid out. The functional guy is working to save it and thinks he can shrink the cysts.

So, nothing conclusive here or any way to link it to root canals, but there's the history.

Regarding Mercola, in past years I've had a tendency to blow him off as using a buncha scare tactics to sell stuff. But after doing enough of my own research on subjects and running across links where he covered the same material, coming to the same conclusions, I started to pay a bit more attention to him and it's been worthwhile. He conveniently provides links or cites research throughout his articles to back up his conclusions. He's a messenger and not a researcher, but I guess he is a clinician which should account for something. I don't know if everything he has ever written is correct (who has?) but I've found it pays to keep an open mind.

...which is exactly what Rose was doing when she posted her question.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 11:49 PM

Re: Mercola. I've always been a fan of the idea that science answers to evidence, not reputation. But I'm just a dumb artist, so what do I know? ;)

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 11:48 PM

That guy really effed you over, Ed. Glad his little shop of horrors was shut down. And that's fascinating about your blood sugar continuing to rise. I keep an eye on mine with a BG meter, too, and mostly it's in the 80s (my labs said 90 last June, so ). Between your history and the article, I'm now extremely curious about the correlation between bad teeth and autoimmunity.

4
531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

on February 18, 2012
at 05:22 PM

I can't speak to your hypothesis that the root canals are the source of your systemic inflammation. But I, too, have been tracking my elevated CRP. I can only offer some correlations and maybe we can compare notes.

I got my first blood tests done when I started a gluten-free diet. My doctor recommended massive amounts of fish oil and B-complex vitamins (time-release), along with serious quantities of vitamin C, magnesium, and cinnamon powder. Enough variables for you? My CRP shot up to your present levels (about 14 ish). At the time I was eating heavy carbs, just not gluten. Lots of tapioca flour pizzas, rice, etc. Still consuming a small but significant quantity of seed oils (all that gluten-free convenience food is full of the stuff of course).

As I went paleo, the CRP has been dropping. But not dramatically. A year ago, it was down to about 9 ish. I suspect hidden food intolerances are keeping the levels elevated. Soy is a bigger problem for me than gluten. And I can actually trigger soy-exposure symptoms by eating chicken and pork. I believe that the tissues of these animals are like sponges for the stuff. Even pastured chickens eat significant quantities of soy-based feed.

So now I'm eating nothing but grassfed beef. (I do occasionally eat plant material, i.e., sweet potatoes). It will be interesting to see my next blood results. Because health-wise right now I feel great--much better than even a year ago, when I was eating the same sort of minimalist diet rich in "pastured" chicken and pork.

In your case, the intolerance could be something else altogether. I would love to get more data on this.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on February 18, 2012
at 06:30 PM

This makes a lot of sense to me. Several of my clients have children with allergies/intolerance to soy so extreme that they can only eat grassfed ruminants.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on February 19, 2012
at 08:53 PM

I think you'd be ok even with grain fed beef. It's really chicken and pigs that are the problem. I sometimes pick up grain fed beef from the supermarket and have no problems with it.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on February 18, 2012
at 07:24 PM

Wow, but I'm not surprised. I feed my dog a "Paleo" Prey-Model Raw diet and many in the Raw feeding forums have found their dogs experience "secondary infection" issues with meats fed corn, grain, and soy.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 11:42 PM

Now that's some hacking, wjones. Thanks for this history. Going grassfed only is something I haven't tried yet, for no good reason other than $$. I wouldn't be surprised at all if I were experiencing some kind of secondary infection, as Marie calls it above.

4
19c3d497ac2360823f43b68547203e1c

on February 18, 2012
at 03:56 PM

Try supplementing with Krill Oil. It's been shown to be effective in lowering CRP.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:01 PM

Thanks for this suggestion; I've heard it before and may try it. However, it still doesn't address the root cause (bad pun; my apologies) of the elevated CRP. Surely it's not caused by a krill oil deficiency, lol.

3
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on February 18, 2012
at 10:20 PM

And bacteria, cut off from their food supply, hide out in these tunnels where they are remarkably safe from antibiotics and your own body's immune defenses.

would the bacteria not starve once they are cut off from their food supply?

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on February 19, 2012
at 10:15 PM

my daughter had many root canals attempting to keep a couple of her baby teeth implanted till her jaw finished growing as she never developed a full set of adult teeth. as i recall the process involved sanitizing the the "canal" before closing it off so that it wouldn't get infected. Dr. Mercola's premise just doesn't ring true in my experience.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on February 19, 2012
at 08:01 PM

Yeah, I have no idea what that even means. If I were cut off from my food supply and then went to "hide out," I'd die. OTOH, as Jenny J notes above, it could be he's just doing a very bad job of describing something that really happens, albeit differently.

1
4886d3390cb1de913ecc198e72cc072c

on December 21, 2012
at 07:04 PM

Try finding a holistic dentist in your area - they will have a completely different perspective from a regular dentist. I'm going to through some similar dental issues.. Also, research holistic dentists that use "Ozone Therapy" which can reduce inflammation, and bacteria. Ozone Therapy is widely used in Europe but still relatively new in the US.

1
705e66484ed64fe8e188123de398413e

on December 21, 2012
at 02:31 PM

I just spent a few days researching root canals on my own in anticipation of having one. While many of the holistic people out there may recommend extraction, I think most people are better off trying a root canal first. If the root canal proves problematic down the road then consider extraction.

This is best site I could find on root canal treatment by Dr. Goldman.

I would also check out Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nigel for a pretty Paleo friendly, nutrition based approach to dental care.

1
50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on March 13, 2012
at 11:10 PM

Hi Rose,

I was wondering if you have had any more luck in tracking down the cause of your high CRP. Have you decided one way or another regarding the removal of your root canals? I too read the Dr. Mercola article a while back, and along with some other information, decided to get a quote to remove my 2 root canals.

I believe I found this Dentist here on Paleo Hacks, or a related site. link text

I have no affiliation whatsoever, outside the fact that I did go to him for an overall assessment and price quote for removal of my root canals and subsequent implants. Needless to say the price tag was high enough to scare me into a holding pattern, but I still think it warrants consideration.

Similar to you, I had blood markers of systemic inflammation that weren't overly traceable to a specific source

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on March 17, 2012
at 02:30 PM

I can't say I've had any definitive answers; I'm still looking. I've been taking 1K of fish oil daily, and I recently upped the fat in my diet again by adding heavy cream back in. I feel pretty marvelous, but that's not a great check of CRP, since I felt marvelous when I had my labs done, lol. I do think I'd like to visit a holistic dentist and do what I can about my sad teeth. Thanks for the link!

0
06dd0ae68e24b7622ee8e8e75eb90a6a

on September 13, 2013
at 01:27 AM

I am a biological dentist for the past 18 years and came across this blog. Bottom line is on root canals: I NEVER recommend them, EVER. It is the only procedure in all of medicne and dentistry combined that involves saving a DEAD body part. In ALL cases of death in the body, the treatment is ALWAYS amputation. Dentistry, as a profession, has ignored this because it can. Tooth structure is the "hardest" tissue in the body by far, and leaving it to rot in your mouth is a very slow process. I know, I participated in the research done roughly ten years ago where over ten thousand root canal teeth were assayed for their toxic content, and the results were shockingly bad. I extract hundreds of root canals every year, and I see the damage they do. Inside every root canal is a rotten, gangrenous environment and they out gas hydrogen sulfide into the surrounding bone, and this causes bone death. It has taught me to read x-rays completely different than your average dentist. Furthermore, the inside of the root canal tooth is acid and anaerobic (no oxygen present), and that is why they provide the perfect environment for the worst kinds of pathogens (warm, dark, moist, acid, and anaerobic, with NO BLOOD SUPPLY) so the body can do nothing about the toxicity inside the root canal. And for any patient of mine who was on the fence about having their root canal taken out, I give them their tooth after it has been removed and have them smell it. The look of shock on their face pretty much sends the message. Ever smell a dead body? That's what the inside of your root canal smells like. And the longer it has been there, the worse it is.

It is absolutely necessary to use intravenous megadose vitamin C during the procedure to protect the body from the toxic event of having that root canal pulled. We also add trauma homeopathics and if needed intravenous antibiotics to the IV, and we harvest the patient's own blood growth factors and platelets and use this in the graft to fill the hole where the tooth was. We have fantastic results removing root canals this way. And we have seen patients health improve afterwards nearly every time. And with WAY less pain. It is time for the controversy on root canals to end. Anything dead in your body is a problem, period. And just because your tooth is sensitive does NOT mean that a dentist has to KILL the tooth to rid the pain. Your tooth is crying out for help, and wants to heal. Killing it is NOT the answer. I use specific techniques and materials to save the life of teeth, with a great deal of success. Even if the decay is deep into the tooth. If the tooth is alive, keep it alive. If it is dead, take it out..... properly!!!!

It's time the truth on root canals be known. Be informed. I hope this helps each and every one that reads this. thank you. Yours truly, Dr. John. www.Biodentist.com

04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

(2261)

on January 23, 2014
at 11:52 PM

Thank you Dr. John. I recently learned all about the dangers of root canals. I called a biodentist in Washington state and didn't really get the answers I was looking for.

0
Eff7c28cc0b9ed22adbfb2cca944b104

on April 10, 2012
at 02:46 PM

Pain related to the root canal is difficult to bear and it is necessary to undergo a root canal treatment at the primitive stage itself. In a root canal treatment, the dentist removes the pulp inside the tooth which is infected, cleans the cavity and seals it back. Though the process seems to be simple, it is very painful, but, necessary.

355ae559fc7c4038c63b5897d74e8a40

(196)

on May 19, 2013
at 12:11 PM

Root canal treatment can be painful, it's true, but if the tooth is dead it generally isn't, it's just tedious.

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