Just Yank Out the Tooth?

A great comic we recently ran across:

 

A not-so-great real world example that recently ran in an email from Mercola.com, just below the large supplement ad:

mercola_rc_sens
 

Suffice it to say, the article has relatively little to say about extraction. In fact, the real title of the article is much less flashy, much more responsible and prevention-oriented:

mercola_rc_art
 

Unfortunately, the first headline – the one from the email blast – plants the seed of belief in the idea that extracting root canal teeth alone will lead the way to healing from one chronic condition or another: Just remove the focus – the local source of infection – and expect your health to improve. But as as we noted a few weeks ago, that’s not quite the case.

In fact, one reason why [Dr. Weston] Price’s work on focal infections came to be discounted was dentists naively extracting root canal teeth from patients whose health did not improve one bit afterwards. It wasn’t the theory that was wrong; only some of the actions it inspired.

Simple extraction is seldom if ever enough.

If healing is to happen, the health of the extracellular matrix – the biological terrain – MUST be addressed first. For just as its condition dictates the course of disease, it also guides healing. Addressing the terrain means supporting and strengthening the body’s self-regulating abilities so that when it comes time to address specific dental issues – root canal teeth or otherwise – the body will be able to respond positively and move toward health.

In short, root canal teeth are a problem, but far from the only factor in generating illness. For more on this issue, check out the article we posted last week in which Dr. Verigin takes a closer look at Dr. Price’s 25 years of research and ultimate conclusions about root canals.

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1000 Words: Why Floss?

Thanks to electron microscopy…

used_floss

Yep, that’s what floss looks like, up close and personal, after it’s scraped the sides of your teeth, breaking up the biofilm (plaque) no toothbrush can reach.

Previously

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Root Canals Are a Chronic Focus, Part 1

From the February 2014 issue of Biosis:

What Weston Price REALLY Learned About Root Canals

By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN

Every week, we get calls from people who desperately want to know if we remove root canal teeth. They say that somewhere on the Web, they’ve read that having those teeth removed may relieve their symptoms of MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or any number of other chronic, degenerative diseases.

To be honest, it can sometimes sound like they’ve just heard Chicken Little holler that the sky is crashing down. For more often than not, they just haven’t investigated the issue very thoroughly yet. They’ve read or watched video by so-called experts who may refer to George Meinig’s Root Canal Cover-Up, whether they’ve actually read the whole thing or not, let alone Weston Price’s two volume opus on dental infections and systemic disease.

Meinig, of course, cites Price’s work as the main inspiration for his own change of heart about the dental procedure he once championed. (In case you don’t know, Meinig was a founding member of the American Association of Endodontists, the professional group for root canal specialists.) Dr. Price, he writes,

discovered a wide variety of degenerative diseases to be transferable to rabbits, such as endocarditis and other heart diseases, kidney and bladder diseases, arthritis, rheumatism, mental diseases lung problems, pregnancy complications, almost any degenerative problem – and after extraction of these teeth, a large percentage of patients recovered from their illnesses.

But that’s a little bit broader than what Price actually stated in Dental Infections and the Degenerative Diseases:

I see no escape from the conclusion that many of the degenerative diseases – [such] as nephritis, myocarditis, endocarditis, arthritis, neuritis, gastric ulcer, cholecystitis, appendicitis, neurasthenia, psychoneurosis, iritis, retinitis, myositis, pancreatitis, etc., etc. – have as one of their important, and [in] MANY cases their chief causative factor, dental infections. [emphasis added]

Clearly, root canals alone are not the issue. There are other factors at work. A closer look at Price’s 25 years of research and ultimate conclusions casts further light on what those other factors are.

wa_priceEven in his day, Price was known as a world-class dental research specialist. (He’s also known as the Charles Darwin of Nutrition, but that’s another story for another time.) He was so highly regarded by his peers that in 1915, he was appointed as the first research director of the National Dental Association – the group that would, just a few years later, change its name back to the American Dental Association (ADA).

By this time, he had already published 150 scientific articles in dental and medical journals, many of them on his research on root canal teeth. He was also well versed in the work of the noteworthy scientists on focal infection theory – William Hunter, Frank Billings, Milton Rosenau, Martin Fischer and others. From their work, Price knew that up to 33% of all diseases had at that time been linked to pre-existing dental infections.

Besides being Research Director, Price was also president and managing director of Cleveland’s Research Institute, where he presided over a team of 60 fellow scientists. His most trusted researchers and confidants were an advisory board of 18 leading researchers across multiple disciplines – microbiology, histopathology, general pathology, physiology, physiological chemistry, zoology, cardiology, serology and more. Each member was a brilliant pioneer in his own right. In addition to Billings and Rosenau, the most illustrious on this board included Dr. Charles Mayo, Dr. Thomas Forsyth, Dr. Truman Brophy, Dr. Louis Ladd, Dr. Frank Lillie and Dr. Walter Garrey.

Price jealously selected research scientists with whom he could have the closest cooperation possible, whose exclusive attention to detail would be concentrated on the work at hand, without the possibility of distraction or conflicting purpose. Their studies involved about 2000 patients and experimentation with at least 60,000 rabbits. Price – who spent his mornings engaged at the Research Institute on Euclid Street and afternoons seeing patients in his own office – expressed compassion and gratitude for both his human and animal subjects.

However, he wrote, “I wish to state that many of these rabbits have in my judgment made a far greater individual contribution and service to the welfare of humanity than hosts of human beings.”

Why so many rabbits? Price was meticulous in his research. He wanted to make sure his results were valid and avoid misinterpretation. His tests were often repeated, and he used a great variety of scientific methods to both demonstrate and accentuate the thoroughness and importance of his efforts.

His experiments famously involved implanting infected teeth under the skin of rabbits, but he needed control experiments first – something to measure outcomes against. So he began by implanting sterile coins, glass and other foreign objects. The only apparent effect was the formation of a somewhat clear, “cyst-like covering” around each object. Over the course of 100 tests, this covering was always found to be sterile.

Next, he implanted samples of healthy teeth that had been removed from orthodontic patients. Again, the response was the same: the formation of a cyst-like covering around the tooth. It was the same whether the tooth was implanted just under the skin or embedded in muscle tissue. No reaction was observed, no matter how long the teeth remained embedded. The rabbits lived full, healthy lives.

toxic_rc_toothThings went very differently, however, when samples of infected teeth were implanted. Often, a fibrous capsule formed around the sample. When this didn’t happen, Price typically found deposits of inflamed exudate and/or pus around the embedded tooth, along with white blood cells and often more than 10 different strains of streptococcus. (“Exudate” is fluid containing solutes, proteins, cells or cellular debris that is discharged into nearby tissues.)

In those cases – when no capsule formed – the rabbits usually died within a day to a few weeks. Most died within just 6 days.

When a capsule did develop, the rabbits generally lived for several months to a year. Often, they showed no evidence of injury. They did develop degenerative diseases, usually of the heart or kidneys.

Price also observed that, invariably, the capsule would begin to absorb the tooth, as if to get rid of it.

Whenever one of the rabbits died, Price would retrieve the tooth, wash it with pumice, then implant it into another rabbit. Some experiments, he’d repeat the process 30 times with the same tooth. Thirty times, the lab rabbit died.

These deaths cast light on a critical point. Going into the experiments, it was assumed that the toxic load would be reduced with each cleaning and transplant. As the toxins diminished, each rabbit, Price theorized, would live longer than the ones before it. Yet all but one died within 6 days; the one that didn’t lived for 10.

Clearly, it was not the microbes themselves that caused the rabbits to die; it was their toxic byproducts fueling infection.

This was borne out by other tests, as well. For instance, in one case, Price retrieved the root canal sample from a rabbit that had died, boiled it for an hour and then let it return to room temperature before implanting it in another rabbit. Encapsulation took place within two weeks and the rabbit lived for 22 days.

In a similar experiment, he took tooth fragments that had been implanted in several rabbits in succession and autoclaved them at 60 pounds of pressure for one hour before implanting them in a rabbit. It lived 35 days. Autoclaving infected fragments at 300 pounds for two hours changed nothing. The next rabbits into which they were placed all developed encapsulations but did not survive, disproving Price’s hypothesis that sterilization would make the teeth as safe as healthy ones. Repeatedly, his tests showed that the toxins generated by the microbiota were much more lethal than any direct action of the microbes.

Price’s experiments with mice are also fascinating – and perhaps even more telling, as mice are biologically closer to humans than rabbits and have a somewhat more robust immune system. And these tests involved more than just implanting teeth and observing responses. Price nutritionally altered their diets, as well. Mice that were given a diet deficient in minerals took about 40 days, on average, to expel the infected tooth that had been embedded under their skin. Those that were given a nutritious, mineral-enriched diet needed only 6 days to accomplish the same task.

His conclusion? The environment in which the tooth is placed – the “soil,” so to speak – matters greatly.

In the next issue of Biosis, we’ll delve into Price’s conclusions about the impact of root canaled teeth on health and what subsequent research has had to tell us about this particular type of oral focus…

To subscribe to Biosis, Dr. Verigin’s quarterly newsletter, use the form you’ll find in the sidebar here.

Infection image from Dr. Graeme Munro-Hall BDS, via PRLog

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10 Natural Medicine Quotes

Collected from around the Web…

hippocrates quote
 
laotzu_quote
 
geddes quote
 
lipman quote
 
voltaire_quote
 
peale quote
 
environment
 
burbank quote
 
montaigne quote
 
emerson_quote
 

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Mercury Amalgam Affects More Than Just the Teeth It’s Packed In

Sometimes, you can’t help but wonder if dental mercury’s defenders operate on the belief that if you say something over and over and over and over and over and over again, repetition shall make it so:

screenshot of pro-mercury article

For a good discussion of the data on sources and levels of mercury exposure, see this analysis of a similar pro-mercury article.

Yawn.

But let’s pretend – just for a moment – that mercury amalgam is all that its defenders claim it is: strong, durable and completely safe when packed inside a tooth. Of course, this means also pretending that countless patients who have suffered illness related to their amalgams don’t really exist or were never really sick…or some other cold and insulting fiction.

Even if such a world existed, that amalgam would still be about 50% mercury and considered hazardous material anywhere outside human teeth. When removed, it’s considered toxic waste. And every year, 340 tons of it makes its way into the environment.

Dental Mercury’s Toxic Journey Back to the Environment

From there, it’s up the food chain – the much more concerning source of mercury than dental amalgam, according to the apologist above.

It’s not without reason that dental sources of mercury were addressed in the Minimata Convention, even if the recommended measures are weaker than ideal.

There are other more suitable, less toxic and equally durable alternatives to amalgam available. Considering all the risks – to patients, dental workers and our very planet – it seems only common sense to opt for those safer alternatives.

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9 Dental Don’ts

So what’s better than fluoride at preventing cavities, gum disease and other oral health issues? Quality nutrition is a big part of it – going easy on hyper-processed foods, added sugars, soft drinks and the like; going heavy on whole foods, produce and healthy natural fats.

Good hygiene is another critical factor. Yet perhaps many of us come up short because what’s to be done seems so simply obvious: What could be so hard about brushing or flossing?

Nothing, really. But there’s a lot about them that’s easy to overlook. And that’s the stuff of this helpful list of 9 dental don’ts that can lead to big problems down the road – courtesy of Dr. Timothy Chase, a cosmetic dentist in New York City:

Top Oral Hygiene Mistakes You May Be Making

    child at mirror with toothbrush

  1. Brushing too long or too often
    Brushing is necessary to maintain great oral hygiene, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to brush every time you eat. According to Dr. Chase, you can actually end up doing more harm than good if you brush your teeth too often or too long. What he suggests is that you brush 2-3 times per day, at least a half hour after meals to avoid eroding your tooth enamel.
  2. Brushing too hard
    One might think that the harder you brush, the more likely it is that your stains will disappear. However, that doesn’t exactly hold true, and brushing too hard can actually cause injury to your gums and can lead to loss of enamel and notching of the root surface of the teeth. Brushing should be done using gentle pressure, with the bristles angled toward the gum line, in small circular motions. Another easy solution is to replace your manual brush with a quality electric brush, which studies show work better and cause less damage.
  3. Brushing immediately after eating
    Brushing soon after eating or drinking acidic foods is one big mistake a lot of people make. Doing so can increase the risk of tooth abrasion. Shortly after you eat or drink acidic foods, the acids in the food weaken the enamel of your teeth. Therefore, postpone brushing to at least 30 minutes after eating, by which time the saliva secreted in the mouth can neutralize the acids.
  4. Only brushing your teeth
    Brushing is not limited to just the teeth. Your tongue needs to be cleaned too. The grooves and ridges on your tongue can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Ignoring your tongue can be the cause of bad breath as well.
  5. Using the wrong toothbrush
    All tooth brushes are not created equal! The only types toothbrushes that should be used are those with soft or extra soft bristles. Using a medium or hard brush can lead to gum recession and damage to tooth structures.
  6. Not replacing your toothbrush
    Can you remember the last time that you replaced your toothbrush? Over time, brushes lose their flexibility and the bristles begin to wear out. Not changing your toothbrush at least every three months can make your efforts to maintain oral hygiene useless.
  7. Not using floss
    Toothbrushes can’t reach certain places, such as between your teeth and under the gum line. Flossing should be done at least once a day to reach these areas, but can be done more often if you tend to have food stick between your teeth. Gently move the floss between your teeth until it reaches the gum, then pull it so that is partially wraps around each tooth. Floss once or twice a day, preferably after dinner.
  8. Not drinking waterIt is very important to drink water throughout the day. Not only does water help rinse food particles from the mouth, but it also helps restore the natural pH. In addition, water keeps you hydrated, which helps in the production of saliva that keeps the mouth healthy and clean.
  9. Not receiving regular dental check-ups
    Even if you correct all of your oral hygiene mistakes, you still need to visit your dentist at least once every six months or more if you have any dental issues. Brushing and flossing alone cannot remove plaque that can harden into calculus; only your dentist or hygienist can remove this. Besides dental disease, your dentist can also help diagnose other potential issues such as oral cancer, TMJ and other systemic diseases.
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A Breath of Fresh Air

Here’s a breath of fresh air, courtesy of a general dentist and dental consultant over in the UK: Fluoridation – whether effective or not – isn’t really worth fighting for.

The days of mass medication are surely over. People nowadays know how to look after themselves and have no wish to have additional chemicals added to their drinking water. They see this as an unwarranted and highly personal interference in their lives without public support and without a real chance for the people to object….

This is not a rant against water fluoridation so much as a plea to listen to, recognise and understand the strength of the public opposition and to realise it is highly unlikely we will ever see mass fluoridation of the water supply and perhaps that might not be so bad.

Oral health is improving generally and the minority of children who need the help we could offer via the water supply are not likely to ever receive it. That may seem harsh and unkind but if the mass of the people have implicitly or explicitly decided that water supply fluoridation is not to their taste we are wasting precious time and resources on a project that is doomed to repeated failure.

There are certainly better, less passive, more ethical ways of improving oral health…

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