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What are teeth made of?

Teeth are alive! To understand root canals and the possible problems with them, you need to understand what
teeth are made of.

Enamel The hard outer layer is called the enamel. It is the part you see, and is made of crystals.
Dentin The next layer is called the dentin. This layer is mineralized and contains a maze of tiny tubules -in one
molar there are up to three miles of tubules! These tubes go from the inside of the tooth to the outer enamel.
Pulp The pulp is in the center and contains nerves and blood vessels. Here nutrients and other things are
passed from the body to the tooth and back again. This pulp is housed in 1-4 major “canals” inside the tooth.

What is a root canal?

-The nerve inside a tooth can get inflamed or infected from a very large cavity or trauma, and it can hurt!

If that nerve dies, it leads to an infected, abscessed tooth. At that point, there are only two options for the tooth.

1. Pull the tooth.
2. Fill the root with a plastic-like material (Root canal).

No one wants to have their tooth pulled, so dentists figured out how to clean that dead nerve tissue out, disinfect the inside of the tooth and fill it – that is a root canal.

The techniques and materials have evolved, and today more than 40 million root canals are performed every year.


To save teeth. The tooth is no longer alive, but it stays in the jaw bone to continue chewing and smiling.

The problem with root canals

Dentists are usually successful in cleaning out the main root canal area and disinfecting it.

So, what is the problem?

Remember that dentin is made up of miles of tubules. The bacteria that are involved in tooth decay, and in the infection of the nerve, travel through those dentin tubules- the highway system of the tooth.

The medications used to sterilize a tooth work in the main root canal area, but not the tubules. There are too many of them. Once the root is filled, the bacteria trapped in the tubules are now sealed inside the tooth.

These bacteria are cut off from their blood supply, and mutate into dangerous bacteria with even more dangerous toxins. Research has found that even the most meticulously done root canal leaks around the filling material, so those bacteria, and their toxins, can get out and into your bloodstream.

Using DNA analysis, 400 percent more bacteria have been found in the blood surrounding the root canal tooth than were found in the tooth itself.

The bone around the tooth has been found to have even HIGHER bacterial
counts than the blood. This taxes your immune system. That immune system also doesn’t care for dead substances, and just the presence of a dead tooth with dead tissue can cause your system to launch an attack.

Infection, plus the autoimmune rejection reaction, are all reasons your body may be affected by a root canal tooth. These infections and reactions “seed” infections and problems far distant from the infected tooth.

Some of the diseases shown to be related to bacteria from root canals:

  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease, heart valve problems, clogged arteries (A root canal gives you a 3 times higher chance of having a heart attack.)
  • Eye disease, Sinus problems
  • Anemia
  • Gall bladderdisease,
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • And Breast tumors…

In fact, Dr. Robert Jones, who has researched the relationship between root canals and breast cancer, found an extremely high correlation between root canals and breast cancer.

He found the following in a five-year study of 300 breast cancer cases:

93 percent of women with breast cancer had root canals
Tumors, in the majority of cases, occurred on the same side of the body as the root canal(s)

Can you have a successful root canal?

The key to a successful root canal is the health of the person getting the root canal! People with strong immune systems and no family tendency to chronic degenerative disease might retain successful root canal teeth. Research has shown this to be true for about 30% of people.

Here’s the catch twenty two- if healthy people have an accident, catch a flu-bug, have a death in the family, or suffer some other severe stress, their immune system becomes over stressed.

When the immune system is over stressed, it has to drop the ball on something, and those trapped bacteria may multiply and start causing problems. So, a healthy person with a root canal may not say healthy. This means a non-problematic root canal may become a problem even years in the future.


There is not a hard and fast answer to the root canal controversy. I can’t give you a rule, but from what I’ve shared, I can give recommendations:

  • If you have a tooth that is dying, and you have a healthy immune system and no family history of degenerative disease like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, autoimmune disease or cancer, you have a statistically higher chance for a successful root canal – at least temporarily.
  • If you have a tooth that is dying and you are in the 70% category with some immune problems, any degenerative disease or a family history of degenerative diseases, you have a statistically lower chance for a successful root canal. You may wish to remove the tooth rather than pay for a root canal that has a high likelihood to fail.
  • If you have an existing root canal and are in good health, AND if the tooth appears healthy and uninfected on a dental-specific CT scan, you may be fine to leave the tooth there for now.
  • If you have an existing root canal and have progressive degenerative diseases or immune problems, your root canal may be contributing to your health problems. Make sure to go to a biologic dentist if you choose to have it removed – the infection needs to be completely removed from the bone.
Warning: Removal of a root canal tooth may not fully alleviate the illness you feel may be caused by that tooth. There may be many factors contributing to illness, but that root canal tooth may be interfering with your health and healing.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for a Root Canal Tooth evaluation and Dental CT scan, please call Total Care Dental at 801-756-3737 – your Dental HEALTH Care providers.

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