According to the American Association of Endodontists more than 15,000,000 root canals are done every year in this country alone. Root canals are an attempt to keep a tooth when it becomes infected or ‘dies.’ This is praiseworthy, however I’ve seen many root canals fail over time, meaning they become re-infected. As a dentist this concerns me, because I realize how many root canals have been done in this country alone, probably in the hundreds of millions. Just ask yourself, “How many root canals do I have?” Most of the time the answer is at least one or two.
In my practice I’m often asked, “Are root canals bad for me?” This is a fair question and my answer depends on whether the tooth is infected. As a dentist I am concerned about infections in the mouth, as there is ample research that links oral bacteria to other problems and organs in the body. If I discover an infection in the mouth, I always recommend treatment to resolve it. If my patients opt to remove an infected root canal tooth rather than retreat it, I often agree as long as they have a plan to replace it.
My experience shows me that when a root canal tooth is retreated with another root canal, it usually fails faster the second time around. You can probably imagine that as a tooth gets worked on more and more, it becomes weaker and weaker because there is less tooth structure remaining. It also becomes more brittle, as it has no blood supply. It is essentially a dead tooth.
Because of the above, I have decided to start a series of Case Studies showing infected root canal teeth and other infections in the mouth. These are infections revealed through high resolution imaging and high definition microscopes. Just because something doesn’t hurt doesn’t mean it is not a problem. Check back in a few days and I’ll have my first case up with examples of the imaging I am talking about. If you have root canals, especially if they are old, you will want to become aware of how these infections can be missed or overlooked. Stay tuned.
Carey O’Rielly DDS has been a practicing dentist for 35 years. He went to USC Dental School and Duke University for his undergraduate degree. He grew up in Laguna Beach and now lives in La Costa with his wife Victoria, who runs his office.
He began his career by owning and operating a network of six offices in the San Francisco Bay Area. Presently he owns a private holistic practice in North County San Diego’s Encinitas.
Dr. O started looking for solutions to his health challenges that resulted from the stress and environmental toxicity that built up over a ten year period running his dental network. He has dedicated himself to learning about oral systemic problems and how dentistry can affect your health. He has applied what he has learned over the last twenty years to ensure he, his staff and his patients are protected from the chemicals and toxic materials found in most dental offices. He has produced an environmentally friendly office that is also peaceful and calm.
He is an expert on dental materials having looked at hundreds of biocompatibility lab tests over the years. He has identified the most bio-friendly materials to use in his practice and which dental materials can be used to replace metal fillings and crowns, including BPA free and fluoride free ‘white’ fillings. He also uses metal-free Zirconia or ceramic implants and PRF (platelet-rich fibrin) grafting materials which come from the patient’s own blood.
Dr. O’Rielly teaches C.E. courses on the systemic effects of gum disease. He is an expert in using phase contrast microscopy for analyzing dental infections, where he shows patients what kind of microbes, i.e. bacteria, amoeba, and yeasts like candida are populating the mouth and affecting the body as a whole.
He has an educational blog and is writing a book on dental health called ‘Hidden Dental Infections: Healing Root Canals and Infected Teeth with the Erbium Laser’ where he discusses dental nutrition, toxic dental materials and the effects of old root canals on inflammation and overall health.