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Are Root Canals Disrupting Your Health?

chronic infections dental immune health immune system infections root canals Aug 26, 2023
Explore the intricate link between root canals, systemic infections, and meridian disruption. Discover insights from Chinese medicine's holistic perspective with Dr. Melanie Garrett, ND Fort McMurray Naturopathic doctor.

Root canals have long been a common dental procedure to treat infected or damaged teeth. While they can effectively alleviate dental pain and save teeth from extraction, emerging research suggests a potential link between root canals and systemic health issues. Moreover, from a perspective rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the disruption of energy pathways known as meridians is also a concern. In this blog post, we'll delve into the intricate connections between root canals, systemic infections, co-infections, and meridian disruption, while exploring the insights provided by Chinese medicine.

The Root Canal Process

A root canal procedure involves removing the infected pulp tissue from the inner chamber of a tooth and sealing the space to prevent further infection. Despite the success of this treatment in many cases, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that residual bacteria can persist in the dentinal tubules—a complex network of microscopic tubes within the tooth. This raises concerns about the potential for systemic infections and co-infections.

Systemic Infections and Co-Infections

Bacteria that remain in dentinal tubules following a root canal might trigger a low-grade chronic infection that could contribute to systemic health issues. These issues may include:

  1. Cardiovascular Complications: Some studies have suggested a possible link between chronic oral infections, including those related to root canals, and an increased risk of heart disease. It's theorized that bacteria from infected teeth could enter the bloodstream and contribute to inflammation in blood vessels.

  2. Autoimmune Reactions: Persistent oral infections could potentially trigger or exacerbate autoimmune conditions, as the immune system may become overactive in response to the chronic infection.

  3. Impact on the Immune System: Chronic infections in the mouth may strain the immune system, diverting resources from addressing other health concerns.

Meridian Disruption in Chinese Medicine

In TCM, the body is seen as an interconnected system of energy pathways called meridians, through which vital energy (Qi) flows. Each meridian corresponds to specific organs and functions. Disruptions or imbalances in these meridians are believed to manifest as health issues. While the concept of meridians may not directly align with Western anatomy, it provides a holistic framework for understanding health.

See the meridian chart here:

The Connection

From a TCM perspective, oral health is closely connected to the overall health of the body. Specifically, dental issues, including root canals, are thought to impact meridians associated with various organs:

  1. Teeth and Meridians: Each tooth is believed to be linked to specific meridians and organs. Any dental procedure, like a root canal, that disrupts the energy flow in these areas could potentially impact the corresponding meridians.

  2. Influence on Energy Flow: TCM practitioners suggest that the energy blockages caused by dental procedures might lead to imbalances in Qi, potentially contributing to a range of health problems.

  3. Holistic Approach: TCM emphasizes the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit. From this perspective, addressing dental issues is not only about the teeth but also about promoting overall well-being.

Root canals have played a significant role in modern dentistry, yet the potential connections between these procedures, systemic health issues, co-infections, and disruptions in meridians highlight the importance of a comprehensive approach to dental care. Integrating insights from both Western and Eastern medical perspectives allows for a more holistic understanding of how dental health can impact overall well-being. If you're considering a root canal or dealing with dental issues, it's worth exploring these connections and discussing your concerns with both your dentist and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine.