Dr. Robert Kulacz, a dentist, has spent a significant portion of his professional career trying to answer why root canal can be bad for you. His findings of root canal eventually became a book called, The Toxic Tooth: How a Root Canal Could Be Making You Sick.
The Importance of Informed Consent
Dr. Kulacz quit performing root canals in 1995. He does not believe in a ban on root canals, but he stresses the importance of informed consent.
The American Dental Association declares that root canals are safe and cannot cause any systemic diseases. However, according to Dr. Kulacz and many other dentists who have spent time researching the topic, know that’s not entirely true.
“If a patient is informed that these root canal teeth remain infected; that bacteria can indeed travel to other sites in the body, and that bacteria in root canal teeth and the surrounding bone release potent toxins, then the patient can decide to have a root canal or not,” he says.
Some dentists think they can clean a root canal tooth and then the act of watering and instrumenting the canal will kill the bacteria, though that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“I’ve done biopsies on every root canal tooth that I have extracted. Almost all of them have remnants of necrotic debris still in that canal meaning that they were not thoroughly cleaned. Microbiological cultures of the surrounding bone showed infection almost 100% of the time.” Dr. Kulacz says.
ADA says that any leftover bacteria will be “entombed” within that tooth, but it does not happen. The gutta-percha, which is the filling material applied to seal the canal, does not get into the little lateral canals that branch off from the main canal, so leakage can, in fact, happen, especially since the tooth is porous.
Bacteria From Root Canals Can Make Other Diseases Worse
Due to a root canal, teeth can become chronically infected. They could contribute to different health problems, such as heart disease. ADA insists that bacteria from root canal teeth cannot travel to distant sites in your body, Dr. Kulacz opposes:
“Heart disease is caused by the damage to the inside lining of the blood vessel (the cholesterol is a secondary byproduct). The primary cause of heart disease is the damage to the intima lining of the blood vessel and migration of macrophages and cholesterol inside that artery. Inflammation causes plaque to rupture into the lumen, into the space of the blood vessel, causing a blood clot and a heart attack. [A] study done in 2013… compared the bacterial DNA in blood clots and arterial plaque in heart attack patients to the DNA of the bacteria in the mouth.
The same bacteria found in the root canal teeth and gum disease are found in the plaques in coronary arteries and in the blood clots that caused the heart attack. These bacteria move from the mouth into other sites of the body like the arterial plaques. They’ve also found the same bacteria in the pericardial fluid or the fluid that surrounds the heart… In heart disease, you don’t want infection and inflammation in arterial plaque.
The presence of oral bacteria from root canal teeth and gum disease in the arterial plaque and blood clots of heart attack patients points to direct causation, rather than a correlation between oral infection and cardiovascular disease.”
All Root Canal Teeth Develop Infection Over Time
Root canal teeth have no blood supply anymore. So the bacteria remaining inside of all root canal teeth are essentially hidden from the immune system. Furthermore, the root canal tooth can become even more infected over time because of the introduction of bacteria from the gum tissue around the tooth.
If your diet is deficient, your immune function will be weaker, and if your immune system is compromised, the bacteria’s ability to wreak havoc is magnified. So what is the solution?
Dr. Kulacz says:
“We can’t become so closed-minded that we ignore mainstream dentistry or mainstream medicine just because we don’t believe one part of it. Just saying that we’re going to extract all root canal teeth and we’re going to cure all disease is not valid. That’s as bad as saying that root canal teeth can’t cause any problems. We have to find the balance… we have to evaluate objectively and then come to a reasonable conclusion and protocol on what to do with these root canal teeth.”
You can ask your dentist to perform ozone therapy instead. Ozone therapy is administered via a syringe, right into or around to the base of the tooth. Various visits to the dentist are needed to address the infection. Ozone is directly toxic to infectious material, and it also stimulates your immune system.
If you think that having your tooth extracted is better than doing a root canal, you will find several options. The first and least expensive option is a removable apparatus or partial denture. You need to take it out at night, then put it back in in the morning. You also need to keep it clean. It’s the least invasive way to recover missing teeth.
The secondary option is more costly, and it’s called to do a bridge. Dentists prepare the teeth on either side of the missing tooth for caps or crowns. The tooth is attached to those two abutment teeth. The bridge is put in as one unit that sits there permanently. The problem is you have to cut the enamel on the neighboring teeth, which traumatizes those teeth, which raises the risk and the need for another root canal over time.
You can also opt for a dental implant, where a screw is implanted into your jawbone after a restorative period of between three and six months to guarantee a base of good bone in the jaw. Then a tooth is mounted on the top of the implant. The implant works as your real root would, and you have a permanent crown that operates like your real tooth. Implants can sound great, but there are also potential problems to consider.
If you are going to use titanium implant, you will be placing metal into your jawbone, which can create a galvanic or battery response with other metals in your mouth. There are articles in the literature of allergy and tissue toxicity to the metal applied in dental implants that can negatively impact health. If you are thinking about using titanium dental implant, you should have an allergy test done to all the metals currently in that implant.
Dr. Kulacz favors zirconium implants because they do not have metallic ions as the titanium implants do. You should know that if an implant is put into the bone where a prior root canal was performed, and the bone was inadequately cleaned out when the tooth was extracted, then your bone may still be infected. In such a case, you are putting an implant into a chronically infected bone, which is not recommended.
It’s important when you remove the root canal tooth that you take out the periodontal ligament. This is the small sling that attaches the tooth to the jawbone. You also need to remove the lamina dura or socket bone and some bone outside that area. That’s achieved with a slow-speed, round dental bur with adequate sterile sealing and irrigation to keep the bone in good condition.
If you do that, you eliminate the infection. And you produce good blood flow into the jawbone. Because without blood, there is no healing. And you had a non-infected, healthy, and healed bone to which you can then place your dental implant. Bacterial cultures and tissue biopsy of the bone around the area, after thorough socket cleaning, can reveal any lingering infection that may persist. This is why the doctor does not favor quick placement of a dental implant into the socket of a root canal tooth and instead prefers to wait for the results of the cultures and biopsy and also sufficient bone healing.
Necrotic Tissue Tends to Cause Problems
A root canal tooth is dead and dead tissue should never be left in your body. If you had appendicitis, the surgeon did not isolate it and left it in there. He removed it. However, when we talk about teeth, this rule seems to be ignored.
The ADA tried to discredit Price’s work, saying it lacks sufficient controls. They also said that they used too much bacteria when they inoculated the bacteria into the rabbits. That’s simply untrue. They took the root canal tooth, and they implanted the same root canal tooth with the same bacteria that would have been detected in the person from which it came from
That same tooth was implanted under the skin of rabbits. They found the same disease transpired in the rabbits. However, the ADA claims they repeated Price’s work and found it to be invalid. But there is no evidence of any repeat of Price’s work. Moreover, modern research supports Price’s arguments that bacteria from root canal teeth do migrate to different sites of the body.
Dr. Kulacz ended up losing his practice after the New York State dental board laid a series of charges against him, which included “gross misconduct” for removing root canal treated teeth. The dental board initially wanted to pull his dental license but backed off when the prosecuting attorney admitted no dentist had examined the massive amounts of data he’d distributed in defense of his approach.
“I called the chancellor of the board of regents in New York State and said, ‘Your dental board is corrupt. The prosecutor admitted to me that my case was not about justice. It was not about the truth. The dental board had an agenda. They already dismissed this patient’s file as a cause of action.’
Dr. Kulacz says. “The next day, the attorney from New York State called and said, ‘The dental board is going to drop all charges if you accept a records violation.’ They had to have something. Otherwise, I could go after them for false prosecution.”
He accepted the records violation because it would take years and a quarter of a million dollars to continue fighting. However, Dr. Kulacz did not realize that this would put him out of business. He managed to keep his dental license, but he did not see that by accepting the violation, he would increase his malpractice premium ten-fold—from $8,000 a year to $80,000. Dr. Kulacz’ story is one more example of what can happen to a professional who goes against the grain.
The good news is that Dr. Kulacz wrote a book instead of complaining about losing two decades of his career with inaccurate knowledge. His book is a great resource, with all the information necessary to show to the most rational individuals that root canals are not the best solution for people’s health. And, if you have a root canal tooth, you should be cautious and consider having it extracted if necessary.