Root Canal (Endodontic Treatment) Controversy

Unsafe Viewpoint

A 25-year extensive study by Dr. Westin Price, suggests that root canal therapy is the cause of many systemic diseases and illnesses. Although root canal therapy is usually successful in eliminating pain and swelling associated with infected/necrotic teeth, and in allowing those teeth to remain in function, the side effects may be hazardous to the rest of the body. It is estimated that only about 30% of the population has a healthy enough immune system to ward off the side effects.

The problem is that root canal therapy cannot thoroughly sterilize the inside of a tooth. This theory is called the “The Focal Infection Theory”. It states that a person can have an infection someplace and that the bacteria involved can be transferred by way of the bloodstream to another gland or tissue and therein starts a whole new infection.

Dr. Price found that 95% of focal infections started in teeth and tonsils. Dr. Price devised a testing method that showed root canal filled teeth that otherwise seemed healthy were actually still infected. Implanting root canal filled teeth under the skin of laboratory animals tested this. He found, in almost every case, that when the root canal filled tooth of a person with a disease was extracted and imbedded in an animal, the animal would develop that person's disease or one similar to it. This involved diseases or conditions such as endocarditis and other heart diseases, kidney and bladder diseases, arthritis, rheumatism, mental diseases, lung problems, stomach ulcers, ovarian diseases, phlebitis, osteomyelitis, and pregnancy complications. Those infections proved so devastating that most animals died within 3-12 days. When these same teeth were sterilized with steam heat and embedded in animals, no adverse health effects were experienced. Furthermore, a large percentage of people recovered from their illnesses after extraction of the root canal filled teeth used in the experiments.

Modern experiences also support this theory. Dr. Issels, a German physician, recommended extraction of root canal teeth as part of his protocol for terminal cancer patients. With clinical experience over 40 years with 16,000 patients, he had observed a 24% total remission rate. Also, some transplant surgeons require root canal filled teeth be extracted before performing transplant surgery, because of the risk of focal infection to the new organ from non-vital teeth.

To summarize, Dr. Price did not say that root canal therapy should be abolished. Rather, he stated there are potential serious side effects and that the health of a person's immune system must be considered before performing a root canal procedure.


Safe Viewpoint

Root canal treatment has been practiced for over 75 years, and is a recognized specialty by the American Dental Association. The purpose of root canal therapy is to keep a tooth by mechanically removing the source of infection from inside the tooth, which then enables the body to naturally remove the infection, usually an abscess, located at the end (apex) of the tooth.

Infections create variable symptoms of pain and swelling, ranging from none to severe, so the number of visits required to treat the tooth is dependent upon how the body reacts after each visit. It normally takes 1-2 visits, but it could take more.

Once it is determined that root canal treatment is successful, the tooth usually needs a crown to protect it from possible fracture, because root canal filled teeth are more brittle than vital teeth. It is estimated 14 million teeth are treated per year with root canal therapy. If the teeth were instead removed, the options of replacing them are usually more costly and less natural. Those options include implants, fixed bridges, and removable partial dentures.