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.
Dr. Mercola either is very bad at choosing his words, or he has no idea how organisms work. "Formerly friendly organisms" cannot "morph" into "stronger, more virulent anaerobes". This isn't science fiction, there is no such thing as transformers, and the language he uses is absolutely ridiculous. As far as this article goes- I call bullshit.
Most problems in the gums is going to be the reaction of streptococcus mutans with the tooth enamel in the presence of sugars. This will cause tooth decay and inflammation of the gums. Constant inflammation has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease/high blood pressure. By reducing the sugar in your diet and not drinking sodas (what's up paleo) you significantly reduce the risk of developing tooth decay. Because you haven't experiences cavities lately, I would say that is a good indication that the health in your oral cavity has already greatly improved.
And about getting your teeth removed- I lost two of my front teeth when I was stupid and young, and I would NOT recommend it. I got implants put in which the doctor told me was "so painless most people just fall asleep". It was the most painful thing that has ever happened to me. I ended up choking on my blood and biting down on something pokey that went into the roof of my mouth (you are conscious for this). My jaw was also damaged from having to hold it open for so long, it went numb for days afterwards and now it clicks VERY loudly. It is also RIDICULOUSLY expensive, and only partially covered by my insurance. I have had several heart surgeries, and honestly I would take a heart surgery any day over getting a tooth implant. That might sound extreme, but seriously, it was the worst thing ever.
In regards to my initial comment under the OP about the fraud dentist, from an early age I wound up with a mouthful of fillings and tooth structure was weakened in a number of teeth, later causing cracks resulting in root canals and crowns in about 4 or 5 teeth (don't even remember), some of these going way back.
Today I have Hashimoto's and peripheral neuropathy, both resulting from autoimmunities - or one autoimmunity causing both conditions. I also have multinodular goiter which consists of 3 or 4 cysts growing in my thyroid and I have been told that they have been there for a long time. Multinodular goiter can be associated with autoimmune hyperthyroidism. In addition, though I have been low carb for a long time (about 1.5 decades) my fasting blood sugar was steadily rising into the prediabetic range in recent years and the functional medicine practitioner (paleo/primal) I have been working with says that it's likely that the same autoimmunity is also working on the pancreas. He has been successful in getting fasting blood sugar back down into the conventional normal range (90s) but I want to see it even lower into the more paleo 80s and this has happened on occasion. (I bought a blood glucose meter to track it myself) One endocrinologist, who has given me repeated biopsies, told me I should have my thyroid out. The functional guy is working to save it and thinks he can shrink the cysts.
So, nothing conclusive here or any way to link it to root canals, but there's the history.
Regarding Mercola, in past years I've had a tendency to blow him off as using a buncha scare tactics to sell stuff. But after doing enough of my own research on subjects and running across links where he covered the same material, coming to the same conclusions, I started to pay a bit more attention to him and it's been worthwhile. He conveniently provides links or cites research throughout his articles to back up his conclusions. He's a messenger and not a researcher, but I guess he is a clinician which should account for something. I don't know if everything he has ever written is correct (who has?) but I've found it pays to keep an open mind.
...which is exactly what Rose was doing when she posted her question.
I can't speak to your hypothesis that the root canals are the source of your systemic inflammation. But I, too, have been tracking my elevated CRP. I can only offer some correlations and maybe we can compare notes.
I got my first blood tests done when I started a gluten-free diet. My doctor recommended massive amounts of fish oil and B-complex vitamins (time-release), along with serious quantities of vitamin C, magnesium, and cinnamon powder. Enough variables for you? My CRP shot up to your present levels (about 14 ish). At the time I was eating heavy carbs, just not gluten. Lots of tapioca flour pizzas, rice, etc. Still consuming a small but significant quantity of seed oils (all that gluten-free convenience food is full of the stuff of course).
As I went paleo, the CRP has been dropping. But not dramatically. A year ago, it was down to about 9 ish. I suspect hidden food intolerances are keeping the levels elevated. Soy is a bigger problem for me than gluten. And I can actually trigger soy-exposure symptoms by eating chicken and pork. I believe that the tissues of these animals are like sponges for the stuff. Even pastured chickens eat significant quantities of soy-based feed.
So now I'm eating nothing but grassfed beef. (I do occasionally eat plant material, i.e., sweet potatoes). It will be interesting to see my next blood results. Because health-wise right now I feel great--much better than even a year ago, when I was eating the same sort of minimalist diet rich in "pastured" chicken and pork.
In your case, the intolerance could be something else altogether. I would love to get more data on this.
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.
would the bacteria not starve once they are cut off from their food supply?
I am a biological dentist for the past 18 years and came across this blog. Bottom line is on root canals: I NEVER recommend them, EVER. It is the only procedure in all of medicne and dentistry combined that involves saving a DEAD body part. In ALL cases of death in the body, the treatment is ALWAYS amputation. Dentistry, as a profession, has ignored this because it can. Tooth structure is the "hardest" tissue in the body by far, and leaving it to rot in your mouth is a very slow process. I know, I participated in the research done roughly ten years ago where over ten thousand root canal teeth were assayed for their toxic content, and the results were shockingly bad. I extract hundreds of root canals every year, and I see the damage they do. Inside every root canal is a rotten, gangrenous environment and they out gas hydrogen sulfide into the surrounding bone, and this causes bone death. It has taught me to read x-rays completely different than your average dentist. Furthermore, the inside of the root canal tooth is acid and anaerobic (no oxygen present), and that is why they provide the perfect environment for the worst kinds of pathogens (warm, dark, moist, acid, and anaerobic, with NO BLOOD SUPPLY) so the body can do nothing about the toxicity inside the root canal. And for any patient of mine who was on the fence about having their root canal taken out, I give them their tooth after it has been removed and have them smell it. The look of shock on their face pretty much sends the message. Ever smell a dead body? That's what the inside of your root canal smells like. And the longer it has been there, the worse it is.
It is absolutely necessary to use intravenous megadose vitamin C during the procedure to protect the body from the toxic event of having that root canal pulled. We also add trauma homeopathics and if needed intravenous antibiotics to the IV, and we harvest the patient's own blood growth factors and platelets and use this in the graft to fill the hole where the tooth was. We have fantastic results removing root canals this way. And we have seen patients health improve afterwards nearly every time. And with WAY less pain. It is time for the controversy on root canals to end. Anything dead in your body is a problem, period. And just because your tooth is sensitive does NOT mean that a dentist has to KILL the tooth to rid the pain. Your tooth is crying out for help, and wants to heal. Killing it is NOT the answer. I use specific techniques and materials to save the life of teeth, with a great deal of success. Even if the decay is deep into the tooth. If the tooth is alive, keep it alive. If it is dead, take it out..... properly!!!!
It's time the truth on root canals be known. Be informed. I hope this helps each and every one that reads this. thank you. Yours truly, Dr. John. www.Biodentist.com
I was wondering if you have had any more luck in tracking down the cause of your high CRP. Have you decided one way or another regarding the removal of your root canals? I too read the Dr. Mercola article a while back, and along with some other information, decided to get a quote to remove my 2 root canals.
I believe I found this Dentist here on Paleo Hacks, or a related site. link text
I have no affiliation whatsoever, outside the fact that I did go to him for an overall assessment and price quote for removal of my root canals and subsequent implants. Needless to say the price tag was high enough to scare me into a holding pattern, but I still think it warrants consideration.
Similar to you, I had blood markers of systemic inflammation that weren't overly traceable to a specific source
I just spent a few days researching root canals on my own in anticipation of having one. While many of the holistic people out there may recommend extraction, I think most people are better off trying a root canal first. If the root canal proves problematic down the road then consider extraction.
I would also check out Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nigel for a pretty Paleo friendly, nutrition based approach to dental care.
Try finding a holistic dentist in your area - they will have a completely different perspective from a regular dentist. I'm going to through some similar dental issues.. Also, research holistic dentists that use "Ozone Therapy" which can reduce inflammation, and bacteria. Ozone Therapy is widely used in Europe but still relatively new in the US.
Pain related to the root canal is difficult to bear and it is necessary to undergo a root canal treatment at the primitive stage itself. In a root canal treatment, the dentist removes the pulp inside the tooth which is infected, cleans the cavity and seals it back. Though the process seems to be simple, it is very painful, but, necessary.