I'm not a big reader of Dr. Mercola's, but his most recent email had an interesting article about the connection between root canals and cancer (the sensationalist headline), and some other diseases as well, including autoimmune disorders. This caught my eye, as I've been on the hunt for a possible cause for my persistently elevated CRP/ESR. This notion that leaving a dead tooth behind in your mouth, with its miles of hideouts for pathogens, is a terrible idea, has struck quite a chord with me.
When a dentist performs a root canal, he or she hollows out the tooth, then fills the hollow chamber with a substance (called guttapercha), which cuts off the tooth from its blood supply, so fluid can no longer circulate through the tooth. But the maze of tiny tubules remains. And bacteria, cut off from their food supply, hide out in these tunnels where they are remarkably safe from antibiotics and your own body's immune defenses.
Under the stresses of oxygen and nutrient deprivation, these formerly friendly organisms morph into stronger, more virulent anaerobes that produce a variety of potent toxins. What were once ordinary, friendly oral bacteria mutate into highly toxic pathogens lurking in the tubules of the dead tooth, just awaiting an opportunity to spread.
No amount of sterilization has been found effective in reaching these tubules—and just about every single root-canaled tooth has been found colonized by these bacteria, especially around the apex and in the periodontal ligament. Oftentimes, the infection extends down into the jawbone where it creates cavitations—areas of necrotic tissue in the jawbone itself.
I've had four (yep, four) root canals, plus countless fillings and caps over the years. My teeth are rotten, rotten, rotten. I used to have new cavities every year right on through my forties, but since changing my diet in 2007 I haven't had a single one. (Yay!)
And although every other health parameter has improved since then -- some of them quite spectacularly -- the one remaining issue that bugs me is this damn CRP reading (14.6), and what could possibly be causing it.
Have you had a root canal, or multiple root canals? Have you considered removing the teeth, or have you had it done? And if you've had root canals, do you notice any symptoms of persistent inflammation or other troubles?
I guess I'm looking to be persuaded either that this idea is sheer loonery, or that there's some merit in it, and I should seriously consider having the teeth removed. Sigh.