Approximately 25 million Americans undergo root canal therapy every year in an effort to prevent the loss of teeth, which have “died”. This common procedure is promoted by most dentists and endodontists, who are specialists limiting their practices to root canals and related problems. During this procedure, “dead nerve tissue” is removed and a filling material is placed within a prepared chamber. This chamber housed not only the nerves, but blood vessels and specialized cells for tooth health. In the majority of cases, the obvious infection resolves and the pain is eliminated without complications.
In fact, most teeth with root canals can remain as a functioning component, especially if properly restored. It is not surprising that most dentists and their patients pursue this therapy when indicated. However, there is more than meets the eye regarding this subject.
The bad news begins with the anatomy of our teeth. The enamel covers the chewing surfaces of our teeth and is generally what we see inside our mouths. This layer is very strong, yet only 1 1/2 to 2 millimeters thick at the most. This covers dentin, which comprises most of the tooth volume. A less strong, but dense, single cell layer, called cementum, covers the roots of teeth. The pulp chamber is within the body of the tooth.
The main pulp chamber, generally centered within the body of the tooth and root(s), is not the only tube within our teeth. In fact, there can be one or more “lateral accessory canals” running from the main chamber outward and through the cementum. In addition, there is also a highly specialized network of microscopic tubes (tubules), designed by our Creator to supply nutrients to the dentin as long as the tooth is alive. Each of these tubules begins at the surface of the pulp chamber and extends out to the enamel or cementum surface of the dentin.
These tubules do not interconnect and house extensions of the living cells which line the pulp chamber and conduct fluids outward from the living pulp. The intricacy of this microscopic anatomy simple cannot be appreciated until we realize that each tooth contains approximately 1.5 million tubules! One front tooth with a single root has an estimated 3 miles of tubules!
The ugly part of root canals is what happens within these tubules when a tooth dies. As the living cells necrose (rot) within the central pulp chamber, their extensions also necrose within their tubules. Although root canal therapy should completely obliterate and fill the main pulp chamber (or chambers in teeth with multiple roots), it is impossible to fill the millions of microscopic tubules.
Bacteria from infected teeth or from the dental procedure itself can remain within the tubules, growing and multiplying. Because microbes can change their form and function in response to a changed microenvironment within the tubules, they can go on living in spite of the altered oxygen and food supply. As they do so, they begin to produce various toxic chemicals, which have been shown to be harmful to you and me. In fact, some of these toxins can be especially toxic to specific organs and/or organ systems.
Dr. Weston Price carried out the research on this issue during the early 1900’s. For over 14 years, he donated more than half of his daily time as the Director for the Research Institute of the National Dental Association, now the National Institute of Dental Research, associated with the American Dental Association. His research involving thousands of patients and tens of thousands of rabbits, formed the basis for the over 220 articles and 3 major books which he authored.
While performing research at the institute, Dr. Price published 25 articles on the effects of teeth with root canals on systemic disease. He also authored what he considered a condensed version of these findings in two publications:
- Dental Infections, Oral and Systemic (700 pages)
- Dental Infections and the Degenerative Diseases (400 pages)
His research was extensive, time consuming and highly accurate, even in light of today’s technology.
Briefly, what Dr. Price demonstrated was, that teeth with root canals can contribute to serious disease and even death in some cases. To show this he implanted teeth, with and without root canals, under the skins of rabbits. The difference in response was remarkable!
When healthy teeth, non-decayed and freshly extracted (such as impacted wisdom teeth or for orthodontic purposes) were implanted under the skins of rabbits, nothing happened. No reaction was seen, no matter how long they remained. As a comparison, Dr. Price also implanted sterile objects, such as coins, pieces of glass or metal, and saw no reactions. Over 100 sterile foreign objects were tested to verify this!! The rabbits merely formed a thin skin-like sac around each object.
An immense difference was observed in animals following the implantation of root filled teeth. Most of the embedded teeth became surrounded by pus or inflammation: the rabbits usually died within 6-10 days! Some rabbits developed a thick fibrous capsule around the teeth and lived for several months to a year; fewer showed no evidence whatsoever of injury or illness from these teeth. Many of the rabbits with encapsulated teeth went on to develop degenerative diseases, notably of the heart and kidneys.
Dr. Price went on to remove embedded teeth from a rabbit, which had just died, and then re-implant it into another rabbit. Each time he would carefully wash the tooth with pumice and disinfectant. The same tooth could kill 30 rabbits in succession. (He stopped at that point, having fulfilled his purposes).
One time he removed an implanted tooth from a rabbit which died, placed in boiling water for 2 hours, let it cool and re-implanted into another rabbit. It took 22 days for this rabbit to die instead of the usual 6-10 days.
Taking this one step further, Dr. Price placed on such tooth in a hospital autoclave for 1 hour at 30 lbs. pressure. When this tooth caused a rabbit to die, he then used 60 lbs. pressure for 1 hour and eventually 300 lbs. pressure for 2 hours! Although more lengthy sterilization prolonged their lives, all of the rabbits eventually died.
In order to confirm that the microbial toxins were the source of the problem and not the bacteria themselves, he crushed roots of root filled teeth, rinsed them and filtered this rinse liquid through a special filter that removes all bacteria. After proving that no bacteria remained, by attempting to culture the liquid (to no avail), it was injected into rabbits. Death usually occurred within a couple of weeks.
Dr. Price reported extensively on the changes in blood chemistry induced by root canals, in both man and laboratory animals. Repeatedly, he demonstrated such alterations following placement and/or removal, and even reinsertion of root canals. Several changes induced by root canals were as follows:
- Calcium/Phosphorus imbalance
- Lower pH
- Higher blood sugar
- Higher uric acid
- Altered total protein (and subcomponent thereof)
- White blood cell alterations: e.g. depressed PMNs (by 33%) and elevated lymphocytes (by 58%)
He wrote at length of alterations of calcium metabolism and its essential role in cell, organ and systemic function. For example, Ca(+2) within cells is utilized to regulate numerous cell functions. Alterations of various forms of calcium – e.g. ionic vs. bound forms – were caused by root canals and normalized by their removal.
George Meinig: Root Canal Cover-Up Exposed!, Bion Publishing, Ojai, California, 1993
Weston Price: The Price of Root Canals, compiled by Hal Huggins, Huggins Diagnostic Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1992
National Research Council: Environmental Neurotoxicology, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1992
Office of Technology Assessment, Congress of the United States; Neurotoxicity: Identifying and Controlling Poisons of the Nervous System, OTA-BA-436, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990