Root Canal: Possible Health Issues
One of my patients of over 10 years came in today complaining of some soreness around a tooth, especially when she chewed or pushed on it. She has experienced this soreness for 3 weeks.
We took a periapical x-ray (shows the end of the root) and noticed a radiolucency (dark area around the root) which indicates that the nerve is dead. So, what is she to do about it?
A filling or crown won’t help as the problem is inside the tooth where the nerve is dead. Only an extraction or root canal will take care of this situation.
This patient sees an alternative medicine practitioner who believes that systemic medical problems, can be caused by root canals. The theory is that it is impossible to thoroughly clean the tooth of bacteria and that the root canal treatment just traps these bacteria. One dentist, Dr. Weston Price researched this in the first half of the twentieth century. His conclusion was that the bacteria gets trapped in the root of the tooth after root canal treatment which can cause autoimmune problems as well as problems in the nervous system, in particular.
The traditional approach is to refer the patient to an endodontist to have the root canal procedure performed. After the root canal, the patient usually needs a crown. This patient already has a crown, so a hole can be drilled through the crown, and after the procedure, a permanent white filling is placed to fill the hole.
In this case, I have given all of the data to the patient and referred her back to her alternative medicine practitioner so she can make a decision she feels comfortable with: The choices are to have a root canal or have the tooth pulled.
This patient will be losing a lower first molar if she decides to have it pulled. She does not want to have a space there, so she wanted to know her options to get a tooth in there. Nowadays the dental recommendations are to have an implant placed. This is made of titanium which will osteointegrate (fuse) with the surrounding bone and is very strong. Some alternative medicine practitioners might argue that because it is metal and can also cause some medical problems.
A fixed bridge is the traditional solution, with the teeth on either side of the space crowned and a missing tooth connected to this. A third solution is to have a removable tooth. Patients usually prefer something that they don’t have to remove.
As you can tell, a lot of thought goes into what to do from a dental standpoint and how it could affect your overall health.