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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

A Holistic Perspective on Root Canals

Mar 29, 2024 09:31AM ● By Dr. Yasmin Chebbi, DMD, FAGD, D-ABDSM

Root canal treatments aim to salvage severely infected or decayed teeth. The procedure involves removing the infected pulp inside the tooth, cleaning it, and sealing it to prevent further infection. Within the holistic dental community, there is a lot of discussion about root canals and questions remain about their safety. Holistic dentists also continue to seek out alternatives whenever possible.

Important Aspects of a Safe Root Canal

There have been many advancements in dentistry with regards to root canals and dental care which can help to ensure a safe and effective procedure. These include:

• Visualization: Because excellent visualization during the procedure is essential, seek out dental care providers that utilize state-of-the-art technology such as 3D scans. These scans allow dentists to visualize intricate details of the tooth’s structure, accurately identifying all canals and areas of infection. This precise imaging ensures a more thorough treatment, reducing the risk of overlooking potential sources of infection and enabling a more precise and effective procedure.

• Thorough Cleaning: Look for providers that will conduct a deep and thorough cleaning of the root canal, incorporating ozone gas and water to disinfect hard-to-reach areas. The canals of our tooth roots have microscope tubules where bacteria can hide and where conventional endodontic cannot reach without compromising tooth structure. Integrating ozone gas and water with advanced technologies like the dental laser help to disinfect the small spaces where instruments cannot reach and it does so safely. Ozone gas is known for its potent antimicrobial properties, to thoroughly sterilize the root canal system.

• Biocompatible Materials: Verify the dental practice uses biocompatible materials to prevent sensitivities or allergic reactions during the procedure. Every human is unique in what materials the body accepts as biocompatible. Biocompatibility testing can ensure patients do not have sensitivities or allergic reactions to the materials used in root canal treatments, ensuring a more personalized and comfortable experience.

• Healing Support: Inquire about tailored supplementations to accelerate the healing process post-procedure. This should be a gold standard, and if a dental practice does not consider this essential, that may be worth noting. 

Addressing Infected Root Canals

To determine if a root canal is leaking bacteria, a specialized imaging system called a 3D CBCT can be used to determine if there is an infection. If a previous root canal is infected, consider options such as retreatment or tooth removal followed by replacement with a ceramic implant. Once a tooth is removed, that should be followed by a deep clean of the infected space with ozone and laser treatments. Platelet rich fibrin (the body’s own stem cells) are also recommended to improve healing and bone building.

Failed Root Canal Issues

Despite the efficacy of root canal therapy, failures can occur due to an incomplete removal of infected tissue or inadequate sealing of the tooth. A failed root canal can potentially lead to systemic health issues if left untreated. Potential issues include:

• Persistent Infection: Bacteria persisting within the tooth or surrounding tissues can cause ongoing infection, spreading to other parts of the body via the bloodstream.

• Abscess Formation: Failed root canals may result in dental abscesses, causing severe pain and inflammation. If left untreated, the infection can spread to nearby tissues and into the bloodstream.

• Systemic Inflammation: Chronic inflammation from a failed root canal can exacerbate systemic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders.

• Immune System Response: Chronic infection can overwhelm the immune system, increasing susceptibility to other infections or autoimmune conditions.

• Bacterial Spread: Bacteria from a failed root canal can enter the bloodstream, potentially leading to severe systemic infections like infective endocarditis or sepsis.

Alternatives to Root Canal

Patients should be encouraged to ask their dentist about any alternatives to a root canal that may be available. Some options include vital pulp therapy, a specialized approach aiming to preserve tooth vitality and potentially avoid a complete root canal by healing and remineralizing the tooth.

This procedure focuses on healing and re-mineralizing the tooth by selectively removing damaged pulp while preserving healthy tissue. By stimulating the tooth’s natural healing processes, vital pulp therapy can potentially help avoid the need for a full root canal procedure.

Continued advancements in dentistry offer safe and effective procedures for root canals and overall dental care.

Dr. Yasmin Chebbi, DMD, FAGD, D-ABDSM, is owner of The Flossery, located at 32 South St., Ste. 100, in Waltham, MA. She is also the author of Eat, Sleep, Breathe Oral Health: Why Your Mouth Matters, five-star rated and available through Amazon. For more information or to make an appointment, call 781-894-0500, email [email protected] or visit