What about root canals?

“There’s not, I think, any area of medicine that would conclude that it a good idea to keep dead, infected, or gangrenous tissue in the body. Dentistry calls it root canal therapy. It is that simple.”
~ HMS Robert Gammal

If you’d like more information about the dangers of root canals, watch this video (available for free only til midnight Tuesday). It’s a part of the Healthy Mouth Summit.


  1. I had 1 root canal yrs ago and it was probably THE most painful experience EVER. More painful than child birth and I didn’t even have drugs. I will NEVER do that again. The next time it is suggested, I will just tell the dentist to PULL IT!!!

  2. Lisa Anderson says:

    Dear Mary,
    Please, pretty please, tell me that you are not considering getting any teeth pulled as a result of watching this video. If you stepped on a nail, they’d never be able to completely remove every microbe of bacteria from the wound, but you won’t consider asking them to amputate the foot. You’d let them clean it out the best they could, probably take some antibiotics to help things along, and then hope your immune system takes care of the rest. Sometimes it can’t and THEN it’s time to get drastic.

    • I understand that the video flies in the face of mainstream dental wisdom. But I think it’s a little more complicated than a nail that punctures a foot and is them completely removed. When you have a tooth with a dead root, there are literally millions of bacteria still in the tooth. The American Dental Association is quoted to have said: “It is well known that total sterilization [of an infected tooth] is impossible.” Packing a foreign substance in on top of a bacteria-laden nerve-dead tooth just doesn’t seem wise. Some folks can withstand the insult to their bodies. Many others develop huge systemic health issues from it.

      • I am one of those people that developed numerous health problems as a result of a root canal and the bacteria left behind. My body couldn’t handle it and it resulted in various other infections in my body that antibiotics couldn’t handle. Numerous rounds of meds to treat a simple case of strep throat. Surgery to finally fix an infection in my finger – except even that didn’t work and I had to have emergency surgery and hospital stay to finally get it under control Surgery #3 was reconstructive the damage had been so bad. I could go on. But once they pulled the tooth 4 years later my health problems and always being sick in someway or another went completely away.

  3. I just watched a Netflix today that touched on this – it’s called The Beautiful Truth.

  4. Thanks, I’ll look it up!

  5. I was in a bad bike accident at 16 years old. I did a lot of damage to my face and especially my mouth. I have had 8 root canals with very minimal collateral damage. My endodontist was great and I felt very little pain. No lingering infections, abcesses etc.
    Maybe I am one of the lucky ones. Getting my 6 front teeth removed at 16 really wasn’t an option :). I am 42 now and don’t regret having them. (I regret getting on that bike 🙂

    Like everything in medicine, there is good and bad. Our job is to be discerning in each situation for each person. No judgement either way here.

    • Tia, I’m so glad that your root canals worked well for you. What a tough thing to experience at age 16! Thanks for sharing your story!


  6. Thank you for sharing. I was told Tuesday that I may need a root canal, so seeing your link was very timely. I am 34 weeks pregnant, so I would really prefer not to do anything that will harm the baby. I didn’t know what other options I had. Now I feel more prepared.

    • Demarie, I tend to be on the side of having root canals, and have had one myself, with no problems. That said, whatever you decide, just remember that a single root canal takes a long time – more than an hour (sometimes) two, and that is a long time to recline in one position when you are that far along in your pregnancy. It probably wouldn’t harm the baby at this point, but you could be very uncomfortable. You could ask your dentist if you can do something as a stop-gap measure, until you give birth. That is what I did (I had a broken tooth in my first trimester, so I had a cap put on, and had the root canal a few months after baby was born). Good luck!

      • Jessica, thank you for the input. The dentist is hopeful that we will be able to use a filling, but said a root canal is a possibility. He is concerned that waiting would allow things to progress too far and would cause more damage. My other concern with waiting until after the baby comes is that I don’t want to try to nurse and care for an infant while recovering. I do believe that if the filling will not work, I will ask them for some other temporary measure until we can figure out the best choice.

  7. I have read a lot about root canal toxicity and I’m convinced that I would never have one. Fortunately I have not been forced to make a decision like that yet in my life. Thanks for the info. Oh, by the way, did you know that children’s teeth can be healed if there is a small cavity? {Eliminating the need for filling them.}

  8. I was told by two separate dentists I needed a root canal straight away. At the time we lived close to the Mexico boarder where many traveled to have dental work done at a fraction of the cost. I went and much to my surprise the dentist in Mexico told me that he rarely did root canals, not only did he feel they were ineffective but he also thought they were dangerous to our health. He explained it all quite well, and told us he only did them in the most extreme circumstances. He sent me home….that was 11 years ago…guess he was right. After that we no longer had dental insurance, and finances being what they were it was just not feasible to go to the dentist. I went for the first time last year….that tooth that needed a root canal…just as healthy as can be….as were all my other teeth.

  9. Not being a dentist I couldn’t speak with authority, but my experience is much the same as the others here… I had a root canal about 10 years ago. It never quite healed and I had other illnesses and infections that I can (now) attribute to it.

    A couple years ago, my new dentist (who I love and trust) decided that tooth needed to come out. It was too infected to stay in. I lamented that it was a very expensive tooth (having had the root canal) and he just shrugged and said, “Sorry. That’s the way most of them go. Most teeth with root canals fail eventually.” I’m not sure if he was referring to the infection issue, but he seemed to think a root canal was a waste of money. Providently, that tooth was my farthest back molar, so I’ve never missed it. I did decide to floss more regularly though! 😉

  10. I did not get the opportunity to watch the video, so I don’t know what it said. I do believe dental issues play a large part in our overall health. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a suggestion of killing the nerve and just leaving the dead tooth in the mouth which is what above comments seem to indicate. I’m wondering if the reason behind needing the root canal might have something to do with whether it is a good or bad idea? I had two, and both when I was young. My mother was not happy, but they were circumstances somewhat beyond our control. When I was 7, and had all of 2 permanent teeth, a hit-and-run car accident ripped out one of the two teeth. Right smack in the front of my mouth. They had to do a root canal and install a post to put a cap on. Thankfully, I don’t remember much of all that. Then, when I was in 5th grade, a fun PE accident took out my two front top teeth. (Yes, of my four front teeth, only one is the way God grew it) One was broken but had enough of a jagged piece left to “rebuild” it with some enamel something or other. The other one was completely sheared off and they had to screw in a post to have something to attach the crown to. Several days later, I was in so much pain I could not even close my mouth, never mind chew. I have a pretty strong pain tolerance, and I’d let it get worse and worse before complaining to mom. She took me back in, and they said the nerve was damaged and they would have to do a root canal on that one with the post. I will never ever forget the smell and taste of that rotted stuff being pulled out. Blech. I’ve never knowingly had any detrimental effects of either of those – I’ve always been pretty healthy – but in both instances, the tooth itself was no longer there. Perhaps that is the difference?