When the nerve of a tooth dies, there is no longer adequate blood supply coming into the tooth and it becomes infected with bacteria. This can happen due to decay, a crack , trauma or previous dental treatment. If the infected tooth is left untreated, pain, swelling, bone loss, and in extreme cases death can occur.  A dead tooth can remain “asymptomatic” for a period of time or the infection can drain creating an abscess.  Even though there is no pain in this circumstance, bone loss, systemic circulation of bacterial toxins and a drain on the immune system ensues.  There are two treatment options for a dead or dying tooth:

Root Canal Therapy (RCT): involves removing the nerve, blood vessels, and lymph tissue from within the tooth and then sealing the empty chamber with a filling substance called gutta percha (may contain cadmium and mercury salts). Because the integrity of the tooth structure is usually compromised with RCT, a crown is typically placed over the remaining tooth structure.

Tooth Extraction: The infected tooth is removed and the site is allowed to heal for several weeks.  Once the extraction site is healed, tooth replacement (removable partial denture, bridge, dental implant) can begin.

Root Canal Therapy is Safe
Root Canal Therapy (RCT) is the conventional standard of care for a dead or dying tooth.  RCT has been practiced for almost a century and the American Dental Association has recognized endodontics (RCT) as a specialty within the field of dentistry.   It is estimated that 14 million root canals are performed every year by general dentists and endodontic specialists.  More detailed information can be found on the American Dental Association website.

Root Canal Toxicity = Unsafe
If you have a healthy diet and lifestyle and a strong immune system, you may be able to tolerate keeping a root canalled tooth in your body. However, a root canal treated tooth that is currently being tolerated may become intolerable in the future due to age, illness, or breakdown of the root canal materials.

In a root canal treated tooth, most of the nerve is removed. However, countless minute tubules leading from the central nerve canal remain untreated. The average tooth contains over three miles of these tubules making it physically impossible to clean them all and sterilize the tooth. Debris collects, tissue putrefies and becomes infected, and bacteria flourish. The resultant production of toxic gases and solutions from these chronic infections challenge the immune system and can lead to illness.

A holistic approach to dentistry avoids root canals whenever possible. They represent a stress on the immune system that can manifest in many ways throughout the body. If a root canal is the only treatment available to save a tooth, Dr. Tara Kaur will help educated you about what a root canal is, the possible consequences of living with the root canalled tooth and alternatives to root canals which may be an important part of avoiding future serious health consequences.