What is Root Canal Treatment?
If you are considering a root canal treatment, it is worth knowing more about what is involved – including from a holistic dentistry perspective.
There is a formation of soft tissue within each natural tooth, referred to as dental pulp, which contains nerves, arteries, veins, and lymph vessels. When the pulp is diseased or injured, your body will attempt to repair and heal itself. However, if it cannot repair the diseased or injured pulp, the pulp dies. The presence of bacteria in the pulp causes an infection inside the tooth.
If left untreated, this infection can form an abscess, a build-up of infectious material (pus) at the root tip, eventually causing the pulp to die, and the supporting bone surrounding the tooth will be destroyed. Because there is no blood supply to fight the bacteria and toxins, this reservoir of infection remains inside the tooth.
A root canal treatment attempts to clean out the inside of the tooth. Ideally, the tooth should be sterile. The challenge is that it is impossible to make the tooth canals completely sterile.
How significant is this to a person’s health? The answer is we are not sure, and the effects vary from individual to individual and within the same person from time to time.
Root Canal Treatment Explained…
The Holistic Approach to Root Canals
We often get asked how do holistic dentists treat root canals? Our position at Sydney Holistic Dental Centre is that each case needs to be considered individually based on the person’s own health, both orally and systemically.
Broadly, there are two views when it comes to root canal treatment:
- One view is that the bacteria and toxins pose a threat to a patient’s health and that the bio-energetics of having a dead tooth on a meridian line has implications for a person’s health.
- The other view is that if a root canal treatment is done well by traditional dental standards, any exposure a patient has to bacteria and their toxins is minimal and can be adequately dealt with by the body’s immune system. Additionally, while the nerve in the tooth is no longer present, the tooth is still sitting in bone and the periodontal ligament is still very much alive.
The approach that we take to a holistic root canal treatment is to simply be open to both of these perspectives and assess each individual on whether a root canal therapy will be beneficial.
Who is Suitable for Root Canal Therapy and How Do Holistic Dentists Treat Root Canals?
Signs & Symptoms Relevant to Root Canals
Some of the following symptoms are associated with infection:
- Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity or pain to hot or cold temperatures (after the heat or cold has been removed)
- Discolouration of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums
It is worth noting that pain is a very poor gauge of whether there is a problem. It often surprises us that one patient may only have a small cavity and be in a lot of pain while another may have extensive decay and infections and yet never have any pain.
This is why we take dental x-rays – to see whether there are any underlying infections.
Below shows a healthy and diseased tooth:
Root Canal Treatment Options
There is a case FOR and AGAINST root canal therapy:
FOR – Competence is Key
Root Canal treatments are safe, provided they are done competently by traditional dental standards. In this case, your health is not adversely affected. The infection is resolved, and healthy bone is regenerated around the tooth. As such, the natural tooth is preserved.
Any exposure a patient has to any remaining bacteria and toxins is minimal and adequately dealt with by the body’s immune system. Additionally, while the nerve in the tooth is no longer present, the tooth is still sitting in bone, and the periodontal ligament is still very much alive. The pictures here show bone healing and regenerating after a conventional root canal was undertaken.
AGAINST – The Importance of Sterilisation
Root canal treatments can harm your health if residual bacteria and toxins remaining in a tooth threaten your health. A non-vital/dead tooth in the jawbone re affect the autonomic nervous system (via meridian lines linking the body) and compromise the immune system.
Here is a further discussion about ‘for and against’ root canals…
Can You Completely Sterilise a Tooth?
The answer is we’re not sure. If you are in good health, it may have no observable effect. Suppose you are in poor health, including cancer, diabetes, leukaemia, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, diseases of the liver and kidney, and prolonged therapy with antibiotics and corticosteroids. The bacteraemia (bacteria and their toxins escaping into the blood) may adversely affect your health.
This diagram shows the branches within the pulp that are almost impossible to clean. We do clean these as best we can.
Before and After Images of Root Canal Treatments
Root Canal Procedure
If your tooth pulp becomes infected, bacteria will begin to grow within the tooth. In short, root canal treatment removes the gangrenous pulp and attempts to sterilise the tooth structure.
A more detailed explanation is as follows:
Root canal therapy involves the various procedures used by the Endodontist (root canal specialist) or General Dentist to save the tooth from being pulled by removing the infected or diseased pulp from the tooth.
In simple terms, the tooth’s pulp chamber and root canal(s) are identified, measured, cleaned, washed out, dressed with antiseptics and anti-inflammatories, and eventually filled with a powerful antiseptic.
Canals are measured, mechanically cleaned with precision files, irrigated with antiseptic solutions, and then dressed.
The tooth is then rebuilt using filling material, a ceramic restoration or a crown to provide additional strength and normal function.
This diagram shows the branches within the pulp that are almost impossible to clean. We do clean these as best as we can:
Does Having a Root Canal Treatment Impact My Health Negatively?
When the pulp is diseased or injured, your body will attempt to repair and heal itself. However, if it cannot repair the diseased or injured pulp, the pulp dies. This is normally caused by bacteria gaining access to the pulp chamber through a fractured tooth or a deep cavity, which can expose the pulp to the bacteria found in your saliva. The presence of bacteria in the pulp causes an infection inside the tooth. Left untreated, this infection can form an abscess, a build-up of infectious material (pus) at the root tip, eventually causing the pulp to die, and the supporting bone surrounding the tooth will be destroyed.
When the pulp dies, dead tissue sits inside the tooth (gangrene), and because there is no blood supply to fight the bacteria and toxins, this reservoir of infection remains inside the tooth. A root canal treatment attempts to clean out the inside of the tooth. Ideally, the tooth should be sterile.
Is the Root Canal Procedure Painful?
Effective local anaesthetic is the key, and SDHC is committed to ensuring the procedure is painless and as stress-free as possible.
How Long Will the Restored Tooth Last?
Most restored teeth will last as long as your natural vital teeth. Most root canal-treated teeth require a crown, as the tooth is more brittle and prone to fracture. A well-done root canal treatment and a crown ensure longevity.
Will My Tooth Look Different?
For this same reason, tooth retention and bleaching, veneering, or crowning are preferable to extraction and replacement with a prosthetic appliance (artificial tooth).
What are the Root Canal Treatment Alternatives?
The root canal treatment alternative is to extract the tooth and thoroughly curette the extraction site (Note: this is standard for all extractions). When a tooth is extracted, it should be replaced to maintain the harmony and balance of the teeth and jaw. The alternatives have their own potential problems and often involve more extensive and expensive treatments.
- Removable partial dentures
- These need to be removed and cleaned after every meal
- Increases risk of periodontal disease
- Increase wear and tear on adjacent teeth and gums that support the denture
- Not as comfortable as your own teeth
- Fixed bridgework
- Involves crowning teeth on either side of the missing tooth
- Increases risk of periodontal disease
- There is always the possibility of the nerve in a supporting tooth dying
- Dental Implants placed in the jaw bone
- Bio-energetics of placing a metal implant on a meridian line
Schedule Your Next Appointment or Send Us An Enquiry