- Complications and infections following dental work, including infected root canals or areas of dead jaw bone called cavitations, can cause systemic harm throughout our bodies and impede healing from Lyme and related infections.
- Infected root canals and cavitations don’t cause symptoms within the mouth, and often go undetected.
- Cavitations, pockets of dead, infected jaw bone, are extremely common following dental procedures including tooth extractions and root canals. Up to 90% of tooth extractions lead to cavitations.
- Infected cavitations keep treatment from reaching our brains, and can’t be accessed by our immune systems.
- Cavitations are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria and infections that can spread throughout the body.
- Cavitations are not detected during routine dental examinations, but can be searched for by biological dentists using a CAVITAT scanner.
- Root canal treatments leave behind dentin tubules but cut off blood flow, creating a perfect breeding ground for harmful, anaerobic bacteria and Lyme-related microbes.
- Root canal treatments have been linked to cancer and a number of chronic diseases but are still the go-to treatment for dying teeth.
- It’s best to avoid root canal treatments if possible, in favor of less harmful options such as non-titanium implants, bridges, or partial dentures. If you’ve already had a root canal treatment, it should be removed if it’s been infected.
- Cavitations can be addressed with surgery to clean out the jaw bone or x-tip ozone injections to kill harmful bacteria.
- It’s extremely important to support the immune system before, during, and after treatment for cavitations, and to focus on detoxing.
- For more in depth guidance on this and other critical steps towards recovery, sign up for my at-home Lyme disease program or apply for one-on-one coaching.
ARE ROOT CANALS OR HIDDEN JAW INFECTIONS KEEPING YOUR LYME DISEASE ALIVE?
We rarely think about our mouths or teeth contributing to illness in our bodies. After all, most of us have a dentist dedicated to the health of our teeth, and separate doctors to help us take care of the rest of our bodies. When we have a tooth problem that needs fixing, we go to see our dentists, undergo any necessary procedures, and then we move on. But what most people don’t know is that complications and infections following dental work can cause serious and systemic harm throughout our bodies… and because these infections rarely cause symptoms within the mouth, most of us don’t even know that they’re there.
If you are finding yourself stuck and unable to recover from Lyme or a chronic infection in spite of your best efforts, it may be time to look into the possibility of infections that are hiding behind your teeth.
THE MOUTH/BODY CONNECTION
The mouth is often talked about as being the gateway to the body. It is the point of entry not only for the food we eat and the water we drink but even for the air that we breathe. Because of the multitude of infections, pathogens, and toxins that can find their way into our bodies through our mouths, the immune system is active there, and we are equipped with an oral microbiome to help protect us. The mouth, in other words, houses our first line of defense.
Of course, it isn’t just food and water that we’re putting into our mouths. When we have dental work done, we are allowing any number of materials in. Amalgam (silver) fillings, crowns, retainers, and titanium implants can all contribute to toxicity and neurological symptoms associated with Lyme, Bartonella, and related infections.
Beyond metal in the mouth, cavitations– infected areas of jaw bone resulting from tooth extractions and root canals– can impede healing from Lyme and any number of other chronic infections.
WHAT ARE CAVITATIONS?
So, what ARE cavitations? Basically, cavitations are areas of dead, infected jaw bone. These holes in the jaw bone commonly form after a tooth extraction, wisdom tooth removal, or root canal treatment, when periodontal ligaments from an extracted tooth are left behind and block the growth of new bone by cutting off circulation to the area. These areas of dead bone often become home to insidious bacterial infections.
Infected cavitations can create a barrier preventing treatment for Lyme from reaching the brain. Cavitations can occur in the lower or upper jaw, the latter of which is connected with the skull.
It is estimated that 77 – 90% of routine tooth extractions lead to cavitation infections 1. The trouble is that these infections rarely, if ever, cause localized symptoms (like tooth pain or swelling), and they are not detected during routine dental examinations or even on regular x-rays.
HOW CAVITATIONS KEEP LYME ALIVE
Cavitations create a perfect environment for Lyme and all kinds of bacteria and parasites to breed in hiding. Cavitations are considered focal infections, meaning that they originate in one place but can spread to other parts of the body. But although these bacterial infections can spread throughout the body, our immune system can’t reach them. Not only can we not fight the infection at its source, cavitations compromise the immune system overall: and when the immune system is already weakened because of Lyme or another chronic infection or disease, this affects us even more.
In addition to promoting systemic infection, cavitations actually create a barrier that prevents us from accessing and eliminating pathogens in the brain. So, you may be undergoing treatment for Lyme, but if you have a cavitation, that treatment may be unable to reach the head where it’s needed.
Cavitations are sneaky. They can cause chronic infection throughout the body and keep Lyme active and alive, but they often go undetected because one thing they don’t do is cause symptoms within the mouth.
HOW TO DETECT CAVITATIONS
So, how can you determine whether or not you have a cavitation that’s holding you back from healing? If you’ve ever had a root canal treatment or a tooth extraction, including removal of your wisdom teeth, you may have a cavitation. Cavitation infections are extremely common, and are even more likely if your immune system has already been weakened because of another kind of infection.
Unfortunately, conventional dentists are not trained to look for or be concerned about cavitations, which are not obvious or visible during any kind of routine check-up. Biological dentists, who take a more natural and holistic approach that factors in connections between toxins, environmental exposures, the mouth, and the body, can usually help.
A biological dentist who is trained to detect cavitations will generally use a specific type of ultrasonic tool called a CAVITAT scanner to search for areas of dead and infected bone. If they do find a cavitation, don’t panic! Once they’ve found the area that’s been housing the infection, the next step is to help you to eliminate it, and enhance your overall healing.
It is recommended that you get checked for cavitations once every two years if you’ve had a tooth removed or a root canal.
HOW ROOT CANALS CAN KEEP LYME ACTIVE
Let’s zero in on root canals for a minute. Anyone who has ever had one will wince at the mention of this dental procedure. When a tooth is dead or dying, a root canal treatment is usually done. During this procedure, the pulp inside the tooth is removed. The tooth is cleaned out and disinfected, and then the root canal is shaped, and a filling is put in. The overall benefit of a root canal treatment is that you get to save your tooth (and get rid of the pain that it may have been causing you).
The problem is that although dentists are removing the part of the tooth that is infected, they are leaving behind the periodontal ligament, a connective tissue structure that is an ideal breeding ground for certain kinds of harmful bacteria2. The filling that is put into the tooth cuts off blood supply throughout the area. The dentin tubules (microscopic communication channels) that have been left behind are no longer a bi-directional highway for helpful microbes; they are now a direct route to a hiding place for harmful bacteria that thrive without oxygen. These bacteria, called anaerobic because of their ability to live and breed in environments without oxygen, can multiply like crazy and spread throughout our bodies, causing or contributing to chronic inflammation, neurological symptoms, and systemic infection.
Lyme-related microbes can make themselves right at home around a root canal, and other infections can aggravate and contribute to Lyme symptoms as they leak out into the bloodstream. Toxins, pathogens, and infections can leak and spread from dentin tubules, with the power to affect the whole body, but the immune system can’t get to them, and neither can any kind of treatment that we may be using to eliminate infection.
Unsurprisingly, the links between infected root canals and chronic disease do not end with Lyme and its co-infections. Diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, Irritable Bowel Disease, arthritis, and lupus are among the other conditions with connections to root canals 3. Links between root canals and cancer have also been found, most famously by Dr. Josef Issels, a forward-thinking German physician who decades ago reported that 97% of his cancer patients had undergone at least one root canal procedure.
By some estimates, 75% of teeth that have had root canals develop tubule infections.
Dr. George Meinig, an endodontist (root canal specialist) who was one of the founders of the American Association of Endodontists and helped to popularize the procedure, learned later in his life and career about the high risk of infection and subsequent links to chronic disease that were associated with root canals, and began to advocate for putting an end to them. Dr. Meinig wrote a book on the subject, explaining the dangers involved in root canal treatments and exposing a cover-up of relevant research by the American Dental Association. Unfortunately, root canals continue to be the go-to treatment for dead and dying teeth within conventional dentistry, with an estimated 41,000 procedures performed every day 4.
INFECTED ROOT CANALS AND CAVITATIONS BLOCK LYME TREATMENT
So, practically speaking, how does this affect your healing process? You may be following a well-researched protocol to recover from Lyme involving a specific combination of herbs, antibiotics, and/or other treatments, but cavitations create an actual barrier blocking these treatments from reaching the head. Treatments are also unable to reach the dentin tubules where infections are often hiding, and where Lyme spirochetes may be silently breeding. If your protocol just doesn’t seem to be working, this may be why.
Infected root canals and cavitations can also hinder drainage, meaning that if you are undergoing treatment to cleanse Lyme and parasites, the toxins that are being released are not being eliminated properly. This can cause symptoms of die-off that may actually cause you to feel worse instead of better while you’re trying to heal.
These are some of the major reasons why cavitations and infected root canals need to be removed for complete recovery of Lyme. For comprehensive guidance and protocols on preparing the body for cavitation surgery or root canal removal and supporting the immune system throughout the process, as well as a protocol for amalgam filling removal which can be another huge hindrance to healing, sign up for my at-home Lyme disease program or apply for one-on-one coaching.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT ROOT CANALS
Of course, we want to try and avoid getting root canal treatments if we can. If a tooth is dying and cannot be repaired, other options including bridges, non-titanium implants, or partial dentures may be possible and can be discussed with your dentist (ideally a biological dentist).
If you already have one or more, it’s important to check for infection in the area, and discuss options with a biological dentist, who will take into account your Lyme disease and overall health when determining how to best move forward. Although the root canal itself may not cause problems if it isn’t housing an infection, the likelihood of infection now or in the future is high enough that your biological dentist may recommend removing the root canal no matter what. If a cavitation is found, then the root canal should be removed in order to allow treatment to progress.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT CAVITATIONS
If your biological dentist has found an infected cavitation, it’s time to tackle it so that you can regain control of your healing process! There are a few different options here, and they can be discussed with your dentist and any other practitioners who you’re working with.
Surgery is sometimes required in order to remove dead bone. Another possibility is x-tip ozone injections. This is a relatively simple and painless procedure that involves numbing the area and injecting ozone into the jaw bone to kill harmful bacteria and pathogens that are hiding there. This procedure may leave you with a sore jaw for a few days afterwards. Generally, 5-7 injections are necessary to completely kill off the pesky residents of your cavitation. Depending on the severity of your cavitation, ozone injections may be recommended in addition to or in place of surgery.
Low-level laser therapy is another method that is sometimes used for bone regeneration.
It’s important to make sure that your immune system is being supported before, during, and after surgery and/or ozone injections, as pathogens and infections are being released. It’s not uncommon to feel temporarily worse a few days after surgery as toxins pass through the body, but there are many ways to support your body through the process.
Detoxing may be recommended following surgery or an ozone treatment in order to give the immune system an extra boost. Supplementation with certain vitamins and minerals, as well as detoxification methods like coffee enemas or castor oil packs may be recommended after surgery.
TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR MOUTH HEALTHY
In addition to trying to avoid root canals and repairing damage that may have been caused by dental work, there are a few things we can all do on a regular basis to support our overall health by way of our mouths and teeth.
Remember that microbiome in the mouth? Processed foods, artificial colors and flavors, and refined sugar will all disrupt its balance, weakening our body’s first line of defense. Hopefully you are already avoiding these things, but this is just another reason to!
Many toothpastes and mouthwashes also contain chemicals that harm our oral flora and disrupt our beneficial microbes. Switch to fluoride-free, natural toothpaste and natural mouthwash options to support friendly mouth microbes, and make sure that you are replacing your toothbrush regularly. Rinsing the mouth with sea-salted or ozonated water can also help to support your oral health.
It is also a good idea, regardless of whether or not you have cavitations or root canals, to work with a biological dentist if you can find one in your area.
HOW TO FIND A BIOLOGICAL DENTIST
When it comes to repairing possible systemic damage caused by dental work and preventing future problems, it’s crucial to work with a dentist who takes a more holistic approach and is trained to view and work with your teeth in harmony with your body.
There is an excellent organization called the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology that is made up of biological dentists who understand and take into consideration factors like toxins and infections, and the many connections between oral health and overall wellness. This is a great place to start when you’re looking for a dentist who will work with you to address concerns related to cavitations and root canals as well as other serious inhibitors to healing like amalgam fillings, and who will help to advise you on supporting your body and immune system through any dental procedures.
When undergoing surgery or treatments to remove cavitation infections, you may want to work with a biological dentist in conjunction with your Lyme coach or practitioner to make sure that your body and immune system are being supported from all angles.
It can be overwhelming to think about damage that may already have been done because of past dental work, but there is always a way to work through and repair that damage. The most important thing is getting to the root (no pun intended) of the problem, and working on treating it and on healing.
If you feel like you’ve hit a wall in your Lyme recovery, addressing possible infected root canals and cavitations may be one of the most important steps that you take.
To learn more, watch my conversation with biological dentist Dr. Gerry Curatola.
For much more in depth guidance on this and other critical steps towards recovery, sign up for my at-home Lyme disease program or apply for one-on-one coaching, and get ready to regain control of your health!
- Huggins HA, Levy TE. Routine dental extractions routinely produce cavitations. J Adv Med. 1996; 9(4) Web.
- Nagaoka, Shigetaka, et al. “Bacterial Invasion into Dentinal Tubules of Human Vital and Nonvital Teeth.” Journal of Endodontics, vol. 21, no. 2, 1995, pp. 70–73., doi:10.1016/s0099-2399(06)81098-8. Web.
- Levy, Thomas E. “Oral Pathogens: A Common Cause of Chronic Disease.” Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, vol. 31, no. 1, 2016. Web.
- Endodontic Facts, American Association of Endontists.