The simplicity of it is that each tooth is an individual living organ. By having root canal treatment done, the infected tissue that is readily accessible from this organ is removed (the blood supply, lymph and nerve tissue). This in essence kills this organ, which is then left in the body for the purpose of chewing, appearance and perhaps to support other dentistry.
The possible liability with this scenario is that it is almost impossible to keep the inside of the tooth sterile for years, as it's impossible to remove all the non-vital (dead) content. The warm, damp environment in the miles of microscopic tubules (maze of small tunnels-space) in the root of this tooth is a perfect environment for anaerobes (toxic bacteria that cannot live in the presence of oxygen) to live. And live they do, they thrive and multiply in the oxygen-free environment of the sealed up tooth, and antibiotics can't reach them as there is no blood supply.
If a person is young and healthy, their immune system can deal with the neuro-toxic (toxic to the nervous system) by-products of the bacteria that seep out of this tooth, daily.
But as a person gets older, their immune system may not be as strong and they may have other health challenges, these toxins may create negative effects on the body.
So the challenge to a biological dentist is to keep the tubules sterile as long as possible, so the tooth may not act as a challenge to their health.
There is now a brilliant FDA-approved answer which our office has been doing for the past four years. This is to inject ozone water, then ozone gas into the gutted-out center of the tooth between the two steps of root canal treatment. The ozone permeates into the tubules and zaps the anaerobic bacteria on contact. Remember that ozone is 03 (3 molecules of oxygen), and it quickly breaks back down to oxygen, which kills the bacteria.
We've been doing ozone assisted root canals, and found it to be the best approach, very effective for a controversial procedure. This is not an end all, be all - it's not perfect, as there is no perfect way to keep a dead organ in the body. Is it a better way? I think so, based on my observations of these teeth over a 4-year period. But, as we are participating in an ozone 'experimental' program, this still has to be considered experimental.
Most root canal treatment has two steps (usually done in one visit, but sometimes two - in the specialist's office), which are "Clean & Shape" and "Root-end Fill."
We send our patients to a nearby endodontist (root canal specialist) who only does this procedure and has state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the steps are done as thoroughly as possible based on the current technology. He uses a microscope and fiberoptic light to see into the canal to ensure as much as possible of the infected tissue in there is removed. This is important, as this is a tricky procedure, and it should be done by the best practitioner you can find.
The first step is "Clean & Shape." During this, the endodontist creates an access hole on the chewing surface of the tooth; he goes in with files and other specialized instruments to clean out the soft center of the tooth. Then shapes the canal(s) that he has just cleaned out.
During this first step, the endodontist uses a special state-of-the-art device which vibrates and agitates the irrigation solution, MTAD Cleanser
(this product purportedly sterilizes the miles of microscopic tubules in the root of the tooth). By the vibrating motion, the bulk of the dead and infected residue in the tooth is broken away and flushed out to ensure it is as clean as it can be gotten.
Without this step, this dead material can be pushed further down into the tooth, which will ensure sterility cannot be achieved. He also uses a special irrigator (rinsing tube), and vacuum to pull debris and bacteria OUT rather than pushing it further into the canal.
Then he places pellets of ozone into the tooth (rather than eugenol or chlorine bleach, which can be rather toxic). These are all extra steps that are normally not done in most typical root canal treatments, the purpose is to clean and sterilize teeth as much as possible, in the least toxic manner.
Then the person makes the short drive back to our office. As ozone has the quality of killing bacteria, virus and fungus on contact, we do a several-step ozone treatment to this same tooth, then send him home for ten days or so. Over that time, the ozone will continue to kill any bacteria/ virus/fungus it comes in contact with internally, effectively sterilizing (fumigating) the tooth. Our office procedure is repeated in two, rarely three, visits.
Now back to the endodontist for the last step, where he finalizes his step of the procedure by doing the "Root-end Fill" step. This involves sealing the bulk of the inside of the tooth. The root of the tooth is porous, and there are hundreds of microscopic openings between the tooth and bone, it like a maze of coral.
Then the bulk of the interior of the root is filled with the sealer AH Plus and gutta percha, a substance from the latex of tropical trees. To date, these two fill materials present the best solution in this controversy of filling the root of a dead tooth.
So, if you have been told you need a root canal, give us a call and come in. In some cases we can even find an alternative to root canal treatment or extraction. If not, the root canal treatment can be done in such a way that the toxicity of the tooth will be minimized for a longer period of time.
Surgical extraction using our biological method is still our complete way to rid the body of this problem.