A reader and dentist, Kristi, shared these observations after my root canal post. I have paraphrased some of her comments for length:
“ I have much respect for Robyn and her goals of sharing important life saving information with all of you. Her willingness to stand up for what she believes in is admirable. I would mention a word of caution though about jumping on bandwagon before you’ve done your own due diligence as there are always consequences for the decisions we make.
I always use dental dams and highly recommend you not use dentists who don’t put dental dams in place for root canals and other procedures.
As for amalgam, indeed there are gases that are given off from amalgam fillings; however, it is very minute and your exposure to mercury from air pollution, car exhaust, among other things, particularly if you are big fish eaters is much MUCH greater than what is given off from metal fillings. In fact, the greatest exposure to mercury when it comes to amalgam fillings is in the process of putting them in OR TAKING THEM OUT for all of you considering this procedure.
Trust me, dentists LOVE doing composite (plastic) fillings and usually are more than happy to do this if you insist. You know why? Because they tend to not last as long as amalgam fillings (often replacing in the range of 5 or so years) as compared to metal which many times last 20 plus) and because they can charge you more to put them in. (They are more technique sensitive, take longer to put in and thus they can charge more). Just know there are pros and cons to both. Just as there are some studies that show this leakage of gas, there are many more studies that show that the exposure is VERY minimal in comparison to other routine day to day practices. Especially with today’s techniques of placement. Unless you are planning to make a radical lifestyle change you will not notice a difference as you are unfortunately exposed in so many other ways where with much higher loads than a filling would give off. Also for interest sake, there are studies that show blood levels of mercury being the same for people who have never had a metal filling before and those who have a mouth full of them.
Now, am I saying that I would put amalgam in my own children’s mouths? No, I plan on never doing that but I also plan on doing everything I can to prevent them from getting a cavity in the first place and that is the reason I love the things that Robyn is teaching about whole food and healthy eating because I believe this is the first step in prevention.
Which brings me to the topic of root canal therapy. Before you start walking into your dentist and refusing root canal treatment, you need to understand why it is done and what the alternative is.
Root canal treatment is done (MOST TIMES) because a person has a cavity that has gone so deep that it has eventually gone into the nerve of the tooth. It takes a lot to get to this point and is usually because someone has neglected to see a dentist sooner to deal with the cavity before it got too big. And then we must look at why that person got a cavity in the first place? In MOST cases it’s because they don’t take proper care of them, they have a poor diet and perhaps at no fault of their own, were never taught how.
So a root canal is a dentist’s last attempt basically to save a tooth that in most cases has not been properly taken care of in the first place. Unfortunately the alternative to root canal therapy is extraction. For those of you who have had root canal therapy done, are you now considering pulling all those teeth? Do you think that you would be better off having NO teeth? Do you think that your standard of living would go up having no teeth to chew with and trying to eat a plant based diet? Trust me, dentures are not a bed of roses. If you decide that you don’t want dentures but that you would rather have implants placed (titanium posts drilled in your jaw bone with a fake tooth built on top)? Are you prepared to pay $3k to $5k (depending on the dentist) PER TOOTH to have each of these teeth replaced? And that entirely depends on whether you are even a candidate for implant placement in the first place. Do you recognize that as you start losing teeth there is a tendency for things to break down more rapidly and that you can start having more jaw joint issues? There are a lot of other consequences to pulling teeth.
About those studies, I will not dispute their validity; however, I think it’s very difficult to determine that root canals are the cause of cancer in those cases. I think there are way too many other factors.
Consider for example the fact that generally speaking those who have need for a lot of root canal therapy, usually have had in the past or do have a poor diet and could that have not been the possible cause of the cancer? I’m curious how many of those people were smokers, or ate high meat diets, or highly processed diets…I just think there are much bigger fish to fry here. If you compared the number of people out there with root canals who have never had cancer, I don’t know how convincing that material would be.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that one must consider the alternatives. Yes having fillings and root canal treatment is unfortunately a compromise and it would be better if we never had to do them, but it is what it is and the alternative is not any better.
I would agree that most dentists don’t do a very good job of promoting prevention and that is what this really comes down to: Being educated on how to prevent cavities and the need for root canal treatment in the first place.
A few of my suggestions are as follows:
-Make sure you are brushing at least in the morning after breakfast and at night before you go to bed.
-Floss at least once a day (preferably at night)
-Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice or anything but water (I’ve pulled enough teeth on 1 and 2 year olds to know this is important). Breast feeding, that is a different story but you still must wipe out their mouths as there is still sugar in breast milk and they can still get cavities from it.
-Definitely try to have a diet that is whole foods based. Eating more of what Robyn promotes and less of what she doesn’t will definitely steer you in the right direction.
-Have regular checkups to the dentist so that if you do get a cavity you can catch it while it’s small and before it turns into root canal therapy.
-A couple of cautions about a whole foods diet is that if you like to eat dried fruit such as raisins, you are still at risk of decay because these chewy sticky foods are very good at sticking in the grooves of teeth as well as between them and if you don’t get it cleaned out, bacteria will break it down into simple sugars and cause cavities. So brush brush brush.
-If you are a big vegetable and fruit juicer, be careful, drink it in one sitting and don’t sip it all day long. Fruit juice especially is still sugar and if you are bathing your teeth in it all day long, you are much more likely to get cavities.
-Also watch the amount of acid intake. Vinegars, lemon and lime juice, they all have acid and can break down & weaken tooth structure rapidly. So be cautious, rinse with water, and brush about 30 or so minutes after.
-Please help your children brush their teeth as they cannot do it on their own. Until they can hand write their name legibly or tie their own shoe or maybe even longer, they literally do not have the manual dexterity to get everywhere so you need to help them…and don’t forget to floss their teeth too ?
Robyn’s response: Thanks to Dr. Kristy for sharing her thoughts, especially these suggestions. I would encourage more dentists reading this to seek out additional training to practice biologically. You have three different organizations accrediting or promoting holistic practices that deeply respect the human body and which are not afraid to question modern practices that are harmful to the human organism in general.
Dentists cold-mix mercury with other metals to make amalgam fillings in the office. The resulting mixture is neither chemically stable, nor biologically inert. It’s an oft-repeated but untrue statement that fish and pollution are higher sources of mercury, and that the amount offgassing in your mouth is “tiny.” The EPA stated in a report to Congress in 1997 that the highest body burden of inorganic mercury comes from dental amalgam fillings, and the report shows that dental exposure totals more than from food, including, fish, and water.
The ADA is far too invested in a few specific practices. It spends far too many resources defending harm and high risk. It’s time to support holistic dentists, and call more attention to alternatives in dental practice so that they gain more traction if they are effective.
In Utah, they are Dr. Wall in Bountiful (Dr. Ulm’s wife told me he is fantastic), Dr. Ulm in Lindon, Dr. Bruce Pyper in SLC, and Dr. Robertson in Spanish Fork. Thank you to GSG readers who have pointed me to these dentists.
(To access the other posts in this series, Click Here.)