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 Root Canals 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrative Dentistry by . View all columns in series
Root canals have been controversial for many years. Now researchers are asking whether root canals may be a source of illness and weakened immune system. This is result of research indicating the presence of residual infections even after the root canal has been performed and completed in a tooth. The materials used to treat and fill the canals in the tooth during the root canal procedure have posed many alarms also. Toxic substances such as formaldehyde-creosote (formocresol) are used to sterilize the inside of the canal of the tooth. Formaldehyde is a toxic substance and can cause allergic reactions and inflammation, therefore compromising the immune system. The canals are usually filled with a material called gutta-percha, which may also cause allergic reactions in some individuals since it’s made of both natural rubber latex and synthetic materials. To help gutta-percha be visible on x-ray, lead or other metals may be added to it. Of course, once this is placed in the tooth, it remains there for many years, posing health hazards in the body.

Electro-acupuncture maintains that each tooth in the mouth has a specific relationship with an organ in the body within the same meridian. Any altered energy in a tooth, whether it be caused by a root canal, ill fitting crowns or fillings, or materials in them that are not compatible with the body, will also block and affect different organ systems in the same meridian.

If a tooth is pulled, instead of treated with root canal procedure, the homeostasis of the area in the mouth is still altered. Every tooth is vital to not only the integrity of the mouth structurally, but also impaired blood circulation and lymphatic drainage will be affected. So what is one to do? Of course, 20/20 hindsight has a rule that prevention is best so that you don’t get to the point of having to make the decision of root canal vs pulling a tooth.

If you are at that cross road now, there are some new techniques and materials that you need to know about that make root canal treatments not as hazardous as they used to be. In Europe a material called Biocalex has been used for over twenty years to fill the canals of a tooth for root canal treatment. This is now available in the United States, even though, many dentists are still not aware of it. The main composition is calcium oxide powder which is mixed with a liquid ethyl glycol. The dentist mixes these two ingredients and places the mixture in the tooth canal. The mixture forms calcium hydroxide, expands to six to nine times its original volume. It actually helps induce calcification of the root, therefore, not allowing bacteria to penetrate along the canal. However, because it does expand, weakened roots may fracture. If a large infection does not exist in a tooth, then root canal filled with Biocalex is a good alternative.

You'll probably have to make a few phone calls to dentists in your area before you can find a dentist who uses Biocalex. Biocalex is now manufactured by Biodent, an Australian company.

      
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 About The Author
Flora Stay, DDS holds a doctor of dental surgery degree from University of California, San Francisco. She is the founder of ...moreFlora Stay DDS
 
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