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Is Your Root Canal Making You Sick?

Is Your Root Canal Making You Sick? | Roots & Boots

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You know your yellow tooth is an eyesore when little children, including your own, begin to ask….

What’s wrong with your tooth?
Why is your tooth yellow?

The truth is, my ever-darkening front tooth is dead.  According to my former dentist, it requires a root canal.  Several years ago, I might have agreed.  In fact, over fifteen years ago, the tooth next to it received a root canal.

Root canals are performed every day.  They’re no big deal, and are considered safe by the American Dental Association (among others).

But are root canals really safe?  Today I’ll explain why, for now, I’ve chosen to live with my yellow tooth instead of having it filled and capped.

My First Root Canal 

The nutshell story: in college, I was hit in the face with an icy snow ball. Thanks, college boyfriend.

One tooth died almost immediately and became painful.  My dentist said “root canal,” and that was it.  Plus a crown.

Easy peasy.  I was twenty years old.

Fast forward to my thirties, when I suffered three miscarriages, a variety of mysterious symptoms, and an eventual diagnosis of thyroid disease and then Hashimoto’s.  Though my health is much better now that my thyroid is well supported, I continue to struggle with certain mystery symptoms.  

The Second Root Canal that Never Was

And then the other front tooth began to darken, but there was no pain.  For years I’ve toyed with the possibility of a second root canal, but since there was no pain, I couldn’t justify the cost.  It seemed to boil down to plain old vanity.

Finally my tooth grew so dark that I couldn’t bear to see my own smile and small humans were pointing it out on a regular basis.  By this time, our lifestyle had changed dramatically, and I’d caught wind of the fact that perhaps root canals weren’t the *best* idea for long term good health.

Is Your Root Canal Making You Sick? | Roots & Boots
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What the Biological Dentist Said

So I visited a biological dentist, and his advice alarmed me.  He thinks my thyroid / autoimmune disease is closely tied to that root canal from long ago.

Ideally, he wants to yank both front teeth–the root filled tooth and the tooth that “needs” a root canal–and give me implants or a bridge.

Extraction and replacement seems a bit radical.  These are my two front teeth–the largest, most prominent teeth in my whole smile.  Furthermore, the procedure is, as you might imagine, quite pricey.  Yikes!

Is Your Root Canal Making You Sick?

I dug into this topic, reading about potential links between root canals and cancer and Dr. Weston A. Price’s groundbreaking findings of the links between root canals and degenerative diseases.

I now find myself siding more and more with the biological dentist.

The basic idea is that a root filled tooth harbors toxic bacteria which can migrate to surrounding tissue and also travel throughout the body via the bloodstream, contributing to chronic illness, weakened immunity, and even cancer.

A root filled tooth no longer has any fluid circulating through it, but the maze of tubules remains. The anaerobic bacteria that live there seem remarkably safe from antibiotics. The bacteria can migrate out into surrounding tissue where they can “hitch hike” to other locations in the body via the bloodstream. The new location can be any organ or gland or tissue, and the new colony will be the next focus of infection in a body plagued by recurrent or chronic infections.  [Source]

On one hand, it seems a bit radical, but on the other hand, it makes perfect sense.  The evidence is compelling:

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Malachi around age five with a missing tooth. Cute in kids but not in adults!

What to Do if You’ve Already Had a Root Canal

If my root canal teeth were near the back of my mouth, I’d probably just have them extracted and not worry too much about replacing them, or at least not be in a hurry to choose a replacement method.

By the way, here are 8 root canal options you may want to consider instead of a root canal.

Because my problem teeth are smack dab in the front and center of my mouth, extraction would require implants or a bridge.  Implants are controversial in and of themselves, not to mention the ordeal and the expense.  A bridge seems like a better option based on my current understanding.

Additionally, I recently saw a second and less radical biological dentist who said he could clean out the root filled tooth, and perform a safer and healthier root canal on the other tooth.

Current Options:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Treat root filled tooth + root canal of second tooth (performed by biological dentist)
  3. Extract + replace both teeth

Options for tooth replacement following extraction:

1. Implants
2. Fixed bridge
3. Composite bridge
4. Removable partial dentures
5. (Do nothing: no replacement)

Honestly, I’m still at a loss for what to do next!  Essentially I’m choosing to do nothing, while continuing to ponder the options.

Have you had a root canal?  Have you heard of the link between root canals and degenerative disease?


photo credit: tooth




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Kathleen | Roots & Boots

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. Cheryl Ann on 03/09/2016 at 1:12 pm

    Yes. I’ve had several root canals. However, like you, I will NOT ever have another one. I’m 64 years old now and I brush my teeth with coconut oil. I’m hoping that will counterbalance some of the problems with my root canals. I had 3 on my bottom lower teeth and I know I have at least 3 more. Good luck and please keep us posted!

  2. Kris on 03/09/2016 at 2:47 pm

    This past summer, I had a very painful cavity in a back tooth. I was advised to submit to a root canal followed by the requisite crown. The pain (especially at night) was nearly unbearable, but I could not bring myself to go through with the procedure because I had heard about the dangers of root canals and did a lot of research on the subject. I ended up having the tooth pulled – huge relief and no regrets! But now (as warned) the filled tooth below it is starting to break up due in part to the additional stress placed on it. In addition to daily brushing, I am swishing with hydrogen peroxide every other night to prevent bacterial growth, and so far, no pain. I am not sure I want to lose that tooth as well, but I will not do a root canal! You have a beautiful smile and I understand the quandary you are in. I don’t know the answer, but there has to be a better (and more affordable) way!

  3. Kathy Hoss on 03/09/2016 at 2:57 pm

    I have exactly the same story with my two front teeth except have been dealing with it since a childhood mishap and am now 71…and still vain. Various strange symptoms over the years and no answers. I had all my fillings replaced a few years ago to get rid of all the metal in my mouth. Immediately, all my allergies disappeared. But still have had my share of root canals and odd symptoms. I was recently diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune disorder I suspect I have had for years but don’t fit the AS profile at all,except it certainly explained a lot of symptoms. Meanwhile I still don’t know what to do about my two front teeth! And how do you go about looking for a biologic dentist? Keep us posted!

  4. DME on 03/09/2016 at 5:45 pm


    First, let me say what a lovely picture of you and Mr. Native Texan. And you both have very lovely smiles. 🙂

    Second, oh, how I too, understand the quandary you are in. I think it’s great that you’re taking your time to figure out what the best choice is for you. In the past, I’ve sometimes have come across dentists that can be a little too pushy.

    I had a root canal in my early 20s that only lasted about 2 years or so before it abscessed horribly and I had them get rid of it. Since it was towards the back, I hadn’t had it replaced. I was strongly recommended to have an implant, however, I saw what happened with other family members who had had implants – infections, abscesses, etc. I never went back to get a bridge. I forget why.

    Now I’m almost 50 and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve had dental work done. I’ve been trying to maintain it myself using healthier alternatives, but now a back tooth is causing me trouble and I have to get it checked out soon. As I haven’t been keeping up with the dentistry world, I had no idea there were “biological” dentists. I had heard in passing about holistic ones, but this new term is, well, new for me. So now I am going to check it out.

    I do understand what you mean about the “vanity” part. I’ve just recently (within the past year) stopped coloring my hair. I had tried henna’s and “natural” dyes too, but never with any great results and ending up with a carrot top, LOL, so I’d go back to stuff with “less junk” in it. Eventually, I got sick again. So, I got tired of being sick and tired, and embraced my what-I-now-see-as-beautiful silvers, greys and whites. 🙂 It’s both brought on a whole new level of confidence along with accepting myself getting older. The latter part is not very easy.

    And now with getting older, and teeth getting weaker, etc., your post has really lit a candle under me to research this biological dentistry.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. And please keep us informed when you can about your dental journey as it unfolds.

    Wishing you and your family the very best.


  5. Connie on 03/09/2016 at 8:37 pm


    I have a tooth that I was told needed a root canal a couple of weeks ago. I will not be doing that. In my research about Implants I think the zirconium implants might be a good choice. I do not want the titanium implant as that is just another metal. We are in the Houston area and there are 3 dentist who do the zirconium implants in our area. The zirconium implants are very popular in Europe and other parts of the world. Most of them are made in Europe. I have a consultation tomorrow, but in the meantime my tooth has stopped hurting. I still want to learn whatever I can so I will know for the future. I have one root canal from anout 15 years ago. I wonder if it is the source of my autoimmune issues.

  6. Judi on 03/10/2016 at 12:34 am

    Last year, my husband was told he needed a root canal on an upper front tooth (he can’t remember which one now). I had just read about the benefits of oil pulling with EV Organic Coconut Oil when faced with a root canal. I convinced him to try it for the 2 weeks before his appointment. After a few days, the pain started to subside. He continued for about 10 days, swishing for 20 minutes, 3x per day for 6 days per week – resting on the 7th. He ended up canceling the appointment. I told him to continue the aggressive treatment for a full 2 months, which he did, at least 2x per day, 3x if he could remember. He then cut back to 1x per day – 6 days per week. When the pain was totally gone, he stopped for a week or so but I convinced him to continue with a maintenance routine of once per day for 3 days each week. He has continued this routine since then. He went back to the dentist to have the tooth checked and the dentist cleared him, saying he’s all for alternative remedies and prayer. I would encourage you to at least try the oil pulling – and prayer. It may work for you and you’ll still have your original God-given smile.

    • Kathleen on 03/10/2016 at 1:21 am

      What an awesome story, Judi!

    • Kathleen on 03/10/2016 at 1:27 am

      Cheryl Ann–I’ve heard lots of good things about oil pulling / brushing with coconut oil. Hope it helps you!

    • Kathleen on 03/10/2016 at 1:28 am

      Good for you for doing your homework, Connie. 🙂

    • CRE on 03/10/2016 at 4:09 am

      We had to do tons of research on implants versus bridges for my husband. The zirconium implants are the way to go, but at the time difficult to find a dentist who uses them. We would have had to go to NJ from VA. I’m hoping options have expanded since then. I know they are readily used throughout Europe.

      My husband did a bridges on one dose of the mouth – totally regrets that because they had to ruin inone of his good teeth to attach the bridged tooth.

  7. Bethany Cropsey on 08/16/2016 at 1:43 am

    Hi Kathleen! could you speak a little bit more on what you mean when you say “implants are controversial in and of themselves”? I am curious about what you have read/heard about this. Interesting read on root canals! I will be cautious if I ever “need” one.

    • Kathleen on 08/16/2016 at 11:41 pm

      Hey Bethany, It all depends on who you ask, but the potential issue with dental implants is that they’re made of a foreign material, usually metal. In general, we want to avoid adding foreign material, especially metal, to the body. I’ve also read that bacteria can develop around implants, and that autoimmune issues can be aggravated by metal implants. But apparently some people do fine with implants and consider them perfectly safe.

  8. Elka Engle on 01/12/2017 at 3:20 pm

    Oh gosh I can very much relate to this. I’ll put in a plug for redoing the root canal because I have experience there. I started seeing a bio dentist 4 years ago and that was his recommendation-mine was abcessing and not done correctly ?. I went to a specialist for the redo. My treatment now is to keep my mouth extra clean with flossing and waterpik, etc and we monitor that tooth every year with special X-ray. It’s not the perfect solution and I absolutely wish I didn’t have it but for now it’s okay and I have noticed positive changes in my overall health since fixing it.

    • Kathleen on 01/13/2017 at 12:11 am

      I’m so glad to know this, Elka! Not glad for your tooth troubles, but glad to hear you chose a redo and would recommend it. Thanks! 🙂

  9. Martha on 01/13/2017 at 3:34 am

    Since you use essential oils, it has been my experience to add On Guard, just a drop, to the coconut oil pulling technique, or just a drop on your toothbrush, or, what I like to do, just a drop in the mouth before going to bed to have it penetrate the gums. It has been known to support a healthy immune response and a big name medical university is now doing studies on its wonderful natural anti-bacterial qualities. It also helps with a sore throat or a feeling of a cold starting…

    • Kathleen on 01/13/2017 at 5:08 pm

      Great idea, Martha!

  10. Marie Williams on 06/16/2019 at 2:55 am

    Hi Kathleen, I began having oral/facial pain in early 2006 it started very subtle in Feb 2006, by March, I was experiencing pain in the top 4 and bottom 4 teeth. By late March, I went to the dentist and found out I had a cracked tooth. He performed a root canal. A week later, I was in excruciating pain and went to the ER for pain relief. I was on an IV, but got no relief. I was groggy and later went home. Over the next few months, I went back to the oral surgeon and he said my root canal was a success, even though I was in terrible pain.Over the years, I have seen over 30 physicians, dentists, naturopaths etc. My physician of integrative medicine practicing ART/energy medicine suspected my root canal tooth was the cause of all the health issues that have developed over the last 13 years. I had the tooth extracted in February 2019. Now, my question is this: I am still in a great deal of nerve pain in mostly the top and bottom 8 teeth. It is quite severe, worse than before. A biological oral surgeon that my physician recommended performed the extraction.My doctor is a little confused and was hoping that would be the cause of ALL of my other health issues and that my chronic, severe teeth pain would go away, but it has not, in fact, things seem worse. A 3D scan revealed no other problems. I am very concerned and wonder if maybe I have nerve damage and that just maybe, it takes a while for things to settle down. I don’t know. He uses magnets on me which tend to make things worse for a while. I am just very confused why I read so many success stories of how removing a root canal tooth improved one’s health. I was hoping that I could be sharing my success story here, instead, I am looking for answers. Any ideas?

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